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OF  A 






*  I  have  been  at  a  great  feast,  and  stolen  the  scraps." 

Lovis  Labor  Lost. — Shaks. 

*^  .  .  various,  that  the  mind 
Of  desultory  man,  studious  of  change, 
And  pleased  with  novelty,  might  be  indulged." 

The  7Vw>t.— CowpER 



G.   P.   PUTNAM'S   SONS 




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Press  of 

G.  P.  PuTNAM*s  Sons 

New  York 

May  1913 

Digitized  by  LjOOQIC 

"The  notes  of  a  single  observer,  even  in  a  limited  district,  describing 
accurately  its  features,  civil,  natural  and  social,  are  of  more  interest,  and 
often  of  more  value,  than  the  grander  view  and  broader  generalizations  of 

"  In  a  country  whose  character  and  circumstances  are  constantly  changing, 
the  little  facts  and  incidents,  which  are  the  life  of  history,  soon  pass  from 
the  minds  even  of  the  present  generation.'* — Anon. 


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THE  writer  came  to  Michigan,  a  youth,  in  the  spring 
of  1835,  and  settled  in  the  town  of  Springwells, 
two  miles  from  the  western  limits  of  Detroit,  then  a  city 
of  less  than  5000  inhabitants.  On  or  near  the  spot  of  his 
first  abode,  upon  the  banks  of  our  noble  river,  he  has 
dwelt  for  half  a  century,  and  until  the  spreading  city  has 
absorbed  the  intervening  farms. 

Even  a  few  years  ago  his  present  residence  was  so 
completely  in  the  country,  that  the  familiar  rural  sights 
and  sounds  were  but  little  banished.  The  influences 
thus  surrounding  him  are  visible  in  many  of  the  essays 
which  make  up  this  book,  and  which  are  in  part  compiled 
from  his  Diary. 

Such  are  the  chapters  upon  the  seasons  and  upon  the 
inhabitants,  human  and  brute,  of  the  neighborhood.  Of 
the  other  papers,  some  will  be  recognized  as  having  been 
read  before  the  Detroit  Scientific  Association,  and  State 
and  County  Pioneer  societies,  and  some  have  already 
received  publication  in  newspapers  and  pioneer  col- 

In  the  essays  upon  climate,  the  author  ventures  to 
believe,  will  be  found  something  of  merit,  in  the  way  of 
original  observation  and  research.  The  character  of  our 
seasons  he  has  endeavored  to  portray,  less  by  attempt 
at  vivid  description,  than  by  the  plain  statement  of 
facts.  Anything  really  new,  on  subjects  of  such  univer- 
sal interest,  may  prove  of  more  than  local  value. 



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The  reflection  that  many  of  these  memorials  may  pos-  j 
sess  a  value,  at  least  in  the  eyes  of  partial  friends — alas  !  I 
how  few  now  —  and  may  serve  a  purpose  in  the  preser-  ^ 
vation  of  facts  and  phenomena  which  are  fast  being  lost 
with  the  rapidly  passing  years,  has  been  the  induce- 
ment to  their  compilation  into  a  volume.  ♦ 

B.  H. 

ViNEWOOD,  December y  1886. 

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Go  forth,  little  book,  bark  of  destiny,  freighted  with  the  records  and 
recollections  of  many  desultory  hours.  Take  thy  chance  upon  the  stream 
which  sweeps  all  things  along.  Pleasing  to  the  writer  has  been  his  task, 
and  little  will  he  take  account  with  fate,  whether  favoring  winds  waft  thee 
into  a  friendly  port,  or  the  wayward  current  drift  thee  aside,  to  be  stranded 
on  the  shallows  of  oblivion. 


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Scenery  of  the  Lakes — 1-18 

Charlevoix,  Description  of  Voyage,  2. — The  Lake  Plateaus,  3. 
— ^The  two  Peninsulas,  topography,  5. — Romance  of  Early 
Travel,  7. — ^The  Ocean  Lake,  9. — The  Straits,  before  and  after 
Colonization,  12.— River  Scenery,  15. 

Lake  Superior  in  1840  10-62 

The  Exploring  Party,  21. — ^The  Route — Mackinac,  23. — Straits 
of  Ste.  Marie,  24.— At  the  Sault,  28. — Coasting,  31. — The  Grand 
Sable,  32. — Pictured  Rocks,  36. — Azoic  and  Mineral  Region, 
49. — Adventure  at  the  Ontonagon,  53. — La  Pointe  — Pcre  Mar- 
quette, 59. 

A  Michigan  Geological  Expedition  in  1837 63-90 

The  Party  Introduced,  65. — The  Wagon  Journey,  67. — River 
Voyaging,  69. — Descending  the  Shiawassee — Indian  Clearings, 
70. — A  Primeval  Forest,  72. — Saginaw.  75. — Personnel — Dr. 
Houghton — Our  Fourth  Member,  76. — The  Tittabawassee — 
Midland  Solitudes,  80. — The  Solitude  Broken,  83. — Descend- 
ing the  Saginaw,  84. — Coasting  the  Bay,  85. — Canoe  Voyaging 
on  Lake  Huron,  87. 


Time  of  Universal  Prosperity,  and  what  came  of  it....  91-105 
A  new  Eldorado,  93. — Landlooking,  95. — Eligible  Sites — Paper 
Cities,  96.— Flush  Times,  97.— Wild-cat   Banking,  98.— Hard 
Times,  100. — Ruins,  loi. — Reverses,  103. — Restoration,  105. 



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French  Habitants  of  the  Detroit 107-154 

Part  I. — Introductory,  109. — The  old  Regime,  no. — Coloniza- 
tion, 113. — The  Detroit,  115. — Land-titles  and  Farms,  116. — 
First  Settlers,  117. — Agriculture,  119.— Farm  Implements,  121. 
—Vehicles,  122. — Canadian  Ponies,  124. — Orchards,  125. — 
Pear  Trees,  127. 

Part  II. — French  Homesteads,  131.— Windmills,  135.— Cos- 
tumes,. 136. — Society — Amusements.  139. — White-fishing,  142. 
— Patriotism,  143.— Education,  146. — Language,  149.— Voy- 
ageurs,  150. — Boat  Songs,  152. 

The  Naming  of  Lake  Ste.  Claire '55-175 

Second  Centennial  Anniversary,  156. — Historical  Address,  157. 
— Le  Sieur  de  la  Salle — His  earlier  Expeditions,  158. — First 
Knowledge  of  the  Straits — Incidents,  159. — First  Sail-vessel  on 
the  Lakes,  162.— The  "Griffin"  arrives  at  Lake  Ste.  Claire, 
163. — Origin  of  the  name  of  the  Lake,  164.— The  Lady  Claire, 
165. — The  Christening — Surroundings,  166. — ^Fate  of  the 
Griffin,  169. — New  Schemes  of  La  Salle,  170. — Discovery  of 
Louisiana,  171. — Death  and  character  of  La  Salle.  173. — Hon- 
ors to  his  Memory — A  Suggestion,  174. 

Indians  in  Michigan 177-187 

Aboriginal  population,  179. — Chippewas  of  Saginaw,  181. — 
Pottawatomies  and  Ottawas,  183. — Trading — Fire-water,  184. 
— Civilized  Ottawas,  185. 

Policy  of  the  Government  towards  the  Indians 187-198 

Indian  Titles— Treaties,  188.— Indian  Character,  189.— De- 
mands of  Civilization,  190. — Reservations — Agencies,  192. — 
Errors  in  Policy,  193. — Indian  Capacity  for  Civilization,  194. 
— True  Policy,  195. — The  Consummation,  197. 

The  Mound-Builders  in  Michigan 199-261 

Part  I. — General  Character  and  Distribution  of  the  Works,  201. 
— Defensive  Works,  203. — Circular  Works,  205. — Tumuli,  206. 
— Modes  of  Burial — Entombing,  208. — Monument  Mounds, 
210. — Contents  of  the  Mounds,  211. — Pottery,  ^13. 

Part  II. — Indian  Antiquities  at  Springwells,  219. — Tumuli  at 
the  Sand-hills,  220. — Exploration — Contents,  222. — Intrusive 
Burials,  224. — Carsten*s  Mound,   226. — Circular    Earthwork, 


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227. — The  Great  Mound  at  River  Rouge,  228. — Festival  of  the 
Dead,  231. — Cremation,  233. — Modern  Occupation,  234. — Ex- 
ploration of  the  Mound,  234. — ^A  Vast  Necropolis,  237. — Past 
and  Present,  238. 

Part  III — Ancient  Garden-beds  of  Michigan,  241. — Earliest 
Notice,  243. — Classification,  245. — Beds  at  Three  Rivers,  247.^ 
Kalamazoo,  248. — Prairie  Ronde,  249. — Gardencsque  Plats, 
250. — Botanical  Gardens,  251. — Association  with  other  Earth- 
works, 252. — Origin  and  Age — Conjectures,  253. — Later  Inves- 
tigations, 254. 


Fish  and  Fishing 263-277 

Pole  and  Line,  265. — Prosaic  Modes,  266. — Seine  Fishing,  268. 
— On  the  Upper  Lakes,  269. — Whitefish — Life  History,  272. 
— Lake  and  River  Trade,  275. — ^The  Fishing  Season,  276. 

Birds  of  my  Neighborhood 279-320 

Part  I.— Aquatic  Birds,  281.— Gregarious  Birds,  285.— Black- 
birds, 286.— Wild  Turkeys,  288.— -Birds  of  Prey,  289.— Winter 
Birds— Harbingers  of  Spring,  290. — Wild  Birds  Domesticated, 
293. — A  Good  Talker,  294. 

Part  II. — Our  Birds  Further  Considered,  297.— The  Crow, 
299. — A  Black  Parliament,  303. — Crow  Character,  305.— The 
Turkey,  as  our  National  Emblem,  306. — A  Pigeon  Roost, 
307. — Our  Northern  Mocking-birds,  310.— Song-birds — Game 
Laws,  312. — Birds  as  Insect  Destroyers,  313.— The  European 
Sparrow,  316. — Bird  ways,  317.— Bird  Gratitude,  319. 

Four-footed  Inhabitants 321-343 

Predatory  Animals,  323. — The  .Wolverine,  325. — Nut  Collec- 
tors, 327. — Deers,  Wild  and  Tame,  330. — Traits  of  Domesti- 
cated Animals,  333. — Free  Commoners, — ^Veto,  335. — Medoc 
— Dash — A  capacious  mouth,  337. — Dog  Chat,  338. — Con- 
cerning Cats — Nora,  339. — Tom  and  Jerry, — ^A  Music-lover, 

Wild  Animals  of  Michigan 345-367 

Our  existing  Mammalia,  347.—  Plantigrades,  348. — Carnivores, 


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350.— Rodents,  353.— Ruminants,  356.— Animals  Formerly 
Abounding,  359. — Trapping — The  trade  in  Furs,  360. 

The  Beaver, 361-367 

Beaver-made  Country,  362. — As  an  Engineer,  365. — His  Social 
Qualities,  366. 

Trees,— Their  Relations  to  us.  Economic  and  Scientific.  369-388 
Our  Forests  a  Century  ago,  371.— Results  of  Settlement,  373. 
—Forest  Destruction,  374.— Fencing— Fuel— Clearings- 
Lumbering— Forest  Fires,  375.— Relations  to  Climate,  377.— 
Results  of  Forest  Removal,  379.— Old  World  Experiences,  380. 
— New  World  Experiences,  382.— Forest  Economy— Home 
Efforts,  385.- Legislation— Fencing  in  of  Stock,  386.— Plant- 
ing, 388. 

Trees,  in  their  Social  Relations 389-415 

Natural  Forms, — Individual  Expression,  39i.-Whitewood,  393. 
Maple,  394. — Ash,  395. — Linden,  396. — Sycamore,  397. — 
Beech,  3^.— Birch,  399.— Oak,  400. — Walnut,  401  .—Chestnut 
—Poplar,  403. — Pepperidge— Willows,  404. — Elm,  406. — Ever- 
greens, 408. — Rapid  Tree  Growth,  409. — Planting  Roadways, 
410. — Trees  as  Scavengers,  411. — Hostility  to  Trees,  412.^ 
Sylvan  Spirits, — Classic  Fancies,  413. — ^Trees  as  Friends,  415. 


Climate  of  Detroit  and  the  Lake  Region.    Part  1 4x7-450 

The  Controlling  Element — Isotherms,  421. — The  Lake 
Region  a  Plateau,  425. — Temperature  as  Modified  by  the 
Lakes,  426. — Our  Seasons — Comparisons,  429. — Prevailing 
Winds — The  Michigan  Fruit  Region,  430. — Rainfall — Sources, 
432. — As  Controlled  by  the  Seasons,  435. — Maximum  and 
Minimum  Tendencies,  437. — Monthly  Precipitation,  United 
States,  438. — Maximum  and  Minimum  Years  of  Rainfall,  440. 
— General  Survey  of  our  Seasons,  442. — Comparisons — Con- 
trasts, 444. — Weather  Predicates,  445. — Natural  Classifica- 
tion of  our  Seasons,  447. — Peculiarities  of  our  Climate — 
Advantages,  448. 

Part  II. — Additional  Observations 452-461 

Temperature  and  Rainfall  since  1874, 452- — Mean  Temperature 


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and  Rainfall  of  the  Seasons,— 1835  to  1886,  454.— Season 
Fluctuations,  Maximum  and  Minimum  Years,  456.— Grouping 
of  Years,  458. — Annual  Fluctuations— Reign  of  Law,  459. 

Part  III.— Periodical  Changes  in  the  Lake  Levels,  Rain- 
fall, Temperature  and  Sun-spots,  and  their  Relations 

TO  each  other 460-482 

Lake  Fluctuations,  461.— Periodical  Variations,  462.— Lake 
Erie  Fluctuations  prior  to  1838,  464.— High  and  Low  Levels, 
465.— Periodicities,  467.— Temperature  and  Rainfall  Curves, 
469.— Sun-spot  and  Lake  Curves,— 1769-1834,  470.— Curves 
of  Sun-spots,  Temperature,  Rainfall  and  Lake,  1834-1886, 
473.__Relationships,  476.— Times  of  Increase  and  Decrease, 
477.— Summary,  478.— A  Meteorological  Horoscope,  479. 

The  Winter  Season 483-5^7 

Ordinary  Features,  485.— Mild  and  Open  Winters,  487.— Class- 
ification, 490.— Cold  and  Snowy  Winters,  491.— Storms  of 
Wintry  Time,  493.— Phenomenal  Cold,  495.— Unclassifiable 
Winters,  496.— A  Violent  Reversal,  498.— A  Typical  Season, 
4g9.-_Forest  Occupations,  501.— Visit  to  the  Pine  Woods, 
503. — Winter  Enjoyments,  504. 

Spring-tide 509-524 

Characteristic  Weather,  511.— Floods,  513.— Transitions- 
Vicissitudes,  515.— Contrasts,  517.— English  Springs,  518.— 
Indications,  519. — A  Spring  Morning,  520. — Gifts  of  Spring 
—Flowers— Tints,  521.— Progress,  524.— A  Typical  Season, 

Our  Summers 529-551 

Realization,  511. — Tropical  Characters,  532. — Insect  Life,  534. 
— Voices  of  the  Night,  535. — Moonlight,  536. — Heated  Terms, 
537.— Summer  Storms,  539.— Gales  —Extremes  —Frosts, 
541' — A  Typical  Season,  543. — Compensations,  545. — Enjoy- 
ment of  Summer,  546. — Cloud-land,  547. — Sunsets,  548. — 
Close  of  Day,  550. 

Autumn  Time 553-57^ 

Before  the  Frosts,  555. — After  the  Frosts,  556. — Indian  Sum- 


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xiv  COlTfEJ^TS, 

mer,  558. — Phenomenal  Seasons,  561. — Dry  Seasons,  562.— 
Effects  of  Drought — Fires — Frosts,  563. — ^A  very  Dry  Year, 
565. — Normal  Seasons,  567,— A  Typical  Autumn,  568. 

The  Ripening  of  the  Year 573-S8i 

Autumnal  Changes,  575. — Progress — Tree  Liveries,  576. — 
Contrasts — Shrub    Tints,  579. — Nature  as   a   Color  Painter, 



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View  on  Detroit  River  from  Old   Knaggs  House,  Wind-mill    Point, 

Springwells  (looking  up),  1837 Frontispiece. 

Old  Knaggs  House  (author's  early  residence) 17 

Sault  Ste.  Marie,  in  1840 29 

Grandes  Sables,  from  the  Lake 33 

Grandes  Sables,  from  above '. 35 

The  Pictured  Rocks,  distant  view 37 

La  Portaille 41 

Gothic  Rock 43 

La  Chapelle,  from  the  Lake 45 

La  Chapelle,  from  within 47 

View  from  the  Cliff  Range 51 

Falls  at  mouth  of  Montreal  River 57 

P^e  Marquette,  from  the  Statue,  City  Hall,  Detroit ' 61 


French  Voyageur,  from  oil  portrait,  Montreal,  1835 '^ 

French  Plough  of  the  olden  time 120 

French  Carryall  (carriole) 121 

French  Pony  Cart .  123 

French  Pear  Trees,  Detroit  River 130 

Old  Clergy-House,  Sandwich 134 

French  Summer  Costume  (man) 136 

French  Summer  Costume  (woman) 137 

French  Winter  Costume  (man) , . . ; 138 

French  Winter  Costume  (woman) 139 

The  Griffin, — First  Sailing-vessel  on  the  Lakes 163 

La  Salle,  from  Statue  at  City  Hall,  Detroit 175 

Diagram  of  Ancient  Earthworks,  Macomb  County 202 

Pottery  from  Mounds  at  Grand  Rapids 214 


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Pottery  from  Mounds,  Wayne  County 218 

Diagram  of  Ancient  Earthworks,  Springwells 22 1 

The  Great  Mound  at  River  Rouge 230 

Ancient  Garden-beds,  Grand  River  Valley 257 

Ancient  Garden-beds,  St.  Joseph  River  Valley 258 

Ancient  Garden-beds,  Western  Michigan . .  259 

Ancient  Garden-beds,  Kalamazoo  County 260 

Ancient  Garden-beds,  Prairie  Ronde 261 

Ancient  Garden-beds  (wheel-shaped),  Kalamazoo 261 


Trees  in  Winter : — Whitewood 394 

A  Forest  Whitewood 395 

Maple 396 

Ash 397 

Linden 398 

Sycamore 399 

Beech 400 

Birch 401 

White  Oak 402 

Black  Walnut 403 

Hickory 404 

Cotton-wood  Poplar 405 

Pepperidge 406 

Young  Pepperidge 407 

White  (American)  Elm 409 


Chart  of  Isothermal  lines,  showing  influence  of  the  Lakes  upon  Tem- 
perature   420 

Diagram,  showing  Monthly  Precipitation,  United  States 439 

Diagram,  showing  Annual  Rainfall,  Detroit,  1835-1886 451 

Diagram,  showing  Mean  Annual  and  Summer  and  Winter  Temperature 

and  Rainfall,  Detroit • 457 

Diagram  (No.  i)  showing  Curves  of  the  Sun-spots,   and   Lake   Erie 

Levels,  1769-1834 460 

Diagram  (No.  2)  showing  Curves  of  the  Lake  Levels,  Rainfall,  Tem- 
perature and  Sun-spots,  1834-1886 466 

Winter  morning  in  a  Michigan  lumber  camp 502 


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"  Were  we  always  to  sail  as  I  did  then,  with  a  serene  sky  in  a  most 
charming  climate,  and  on  water  as  clear  as  that  of  the  purest  fountain ; . 
were  we  sure  of  finding  everywhere  secure  and  agreeable  places  to  pass  the 
night  in,  where  we  might  enjoy  the  pleasure  of  hunting  at  a  small  expense, 
breathe  at  our  ease  the  purest  air,  and  enjoy  the  prospect  of  the  finest 
countries  in  the  universe,  we  might  possibly  be  tempted  to  travel  to  the  end 
of  our  days.  • 

**  Each  day  a  new  situation,  chosen  at  pleasure ;  a  neat,  commodious  house, 
built  and  furnished  with  all  necessaries,  in  less  than  a  quarter  of  an  hour, 
with  a  pavement  of  flowers  springing  up  on  a  carpet  of  the  most  beautiful 
green ;  on  all  sides  sintple  and  natural  beauties,  unadulterated  and  inimita- 
ble by  any  art.  If  these  pleasures  suffer  a  little  interruption,  whether  by 
hard  weather  or  some  unforeseen  accident,  it  is  only  to  render  them  more 
sensibly  felt  at  a  second  enjoyment." — Cha&levoix,  Description  of  a  voyage 
to  the  Detroit  of  Lake  Erie,  172 1, 


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FROM  the  great  Appalachian  chain — the  mountain 
region  that  determines  the  course  of  the  rivers 
which  fall  into  the  Atlantic  on  the  one  side  and  the  Mis- 
sissippi on  the  other — the  traveller,  bound  westward, 
passes  abruptly  into  the  immense  valley  of  the  Missis- 
sippi, and  northerly  into  the  famous  **  Basin  of  the 
Lakes,'*  as  termed  by  geographers. 

But  this  term  is  a  misnomer,  for,  like  most  fresh-water 
lakes,  these  bodies  of  water  occupy  an  elevated  plateau  ; 
the  summit,  in  fact,  of  the  vast  expanse  of  land  which 
spreads  out  between  the  AUeghanies  and  the  Rocky 
Mountains.  No  large  streams  flow  into  them,  and  they 
drain  very  limited  areas.  On  the  contrary,  the  Ohio,  the 
Wabash,  and  other  large  tributaries  of  the  great  Missis- 
sippi, have  their  sources  within  a  few  miles  of  the  lake 
borders,  yet  drain  into  the  Southern  Gulf,  while  the  great 
rivers  of  British  America,  commencing  near  the  lakes, 
have  their  outlets  in  the  northern  seas.  The  magnificent 
St.  Lawrence  alone,  finding  its  supply  in  these  sources, 
pursues  its  eastward  way  to  the  Atlantic. 

Each  lake,  it  is  true,  has  its  separate  and  deep  basin, 
or,  more  properly,  chasm.  But,  unlike  lakes  set  in  the 
gorges  of  mountain  regions,  or  streams  which  collect  the 
drainage  of  large  valleys,  these  basins  are  always  full  to 
the  brim,  yet  never  overflow.  No  sudden  rise  of  the 
waters  ever  swells  to  destructive  floods  ;  a  difference  of  a 



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few  feet  only  being  the  entire  change  of  level  which  is 
occasioned  by  the  extremes  of  the  seasons  or  the  most 
copious  rains  and  thaws. 

The  great  American  lakes  may  well  be  considered  a 
distinguishing  feature  of  this  continent.  They  occupy 
nearly  one  hundred  thousand  square  miles  of  its  surface, 
and  contain  more  than  one  half  of  all  the  fresh  water  on 
the  globe. 

Lake  Erie  is  shallow,  the  mean  depth  probably  not 
much  exceeding  lOO  feet.  But  the  chasms  filled  by  the 
lakes  above  are,  in  places,  900  to  1000  feet  deep ;  so  that 
while  their  surfaces  range  from  232  feet  above  the  ocean 
— the  level  of  Lake  Ontario — to  603  feet — the  level  of 
Lake  Superior — their  bottoms  are  far  below  the  level  of 
the  sea. 

From  the  level  of  the  chief  of  the  lakes,  each  surface 
below  falls  by  steps ;  the  water  either  passing  over  cata- 
racts, or  by  swift  currents  through  the  connecting  chan- 
nels. Lakes  Huron  and  Michigan  are  on  nearly  one 
level,  25  feet  below  Lake  Superior;  Erie  is  13  feet  below' 
the  level  of  Huron,  and  Ontario,  by  the  grand  cataract 
and  rapids  of  Niagara,  is  brought  to  a  still  lower  descent 
of  333  feet. 

With  the  exception  of  Lake  Superior,  the  lake  borders 
are  marked  by  no  lofty  or  rugged  cliffs.  The  lower 
peninsula  of  Michigan,  bordered  by  three  of  the  great 
lakes,  partakes  of  the  general  undulating  character  of  the 
Mississippi  valley;  nowhere  rising  into  mountains  nor 
sinking  into  deep  valleys.  In  the  southerly  half,  swells 
of  land  composing  its  water-shed  attain  to  from  300  to 
600  feet  above  Lake'*Erie,  and  occasionally,  rounded  knobs 
rise  a  hundred  feet  above  the  surrounding  elevations. 
The  northerly  half  is  more  elevated,  the  general  water- 


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shed  being  700  or  800  feet,  and  near  Otsego  Lake  rising 
to  1 100  feet  above  Lake  Erie. 

From  these  water-sheds  the  surface  descends  by 
steppes,  or  inclines,  uniformly  to  the  margin  of  the  lakes. 
A  belt  of  flat,  heavily-wooded  country,  underlaid  with 
clay,  borders  the  eastern  side  ;  while  Lake  Michigan  is 
margined  by  steep  bluffs  of  sand. 

Beyond  these  border  tracts  a  varied  surface  is  pre- 
sented of  alternating  timbered  lands  and  openings,  of 
flat  and  rolling  surfaces,  with  numerous  lakes  and 
marshes.  These  are  the  unfailing  sources  of  many  deep 
streams  of  clear  water. 

In  the  southern  part  of  the  State  a  few  rolling  prairies 
occur,  the  largest  being  18  miles  in  length, — the  prelude 
to  the  more  magnificent  prairie  country  of  Illinois  and 
the  regions  beyond. 

The  rocks  of  this  peninsula  belong  to  the  carbonifer- 
ous and  devonian  systems,  and  are  all  deeply  covered 
with  the  drift  of  the  glacial  epoch.  It  is  a  country  of 
mingled  gravels,  sands  and  clays,  covering  the  rocks — 
which  seldom  outcrop — to  a  depth  often  of  several  hun- 
dred feet ;   and  from  these  the  soils  are  derived. 

Little  of  the  peninsula  scenery  partakes  of  the  grand- 
eur of  primitive  and  broken  districts,  but  it  combines 
the  variety — so  essential  in  a  landscape — of  woodland, 
glade,  and  water  in  a  manner  which  often  seems  the 
result  of  art,  but  which  is  not  less  truly  inimitable. 

The  character  of  the  **  openings  "  is  that  of  a  majestic 
orchard  of  oaks  and  hickories,  varied  by  small  prairies, 
grassy  lawns,  and  clear  lakes.  They  resemble  those 
exquisite  pictures  of  park  scenery,  where  the  vision 
roams  amid  groups  of  lofty  oaks  and  over  open  glades 
gemmed  with  flowers ;  while  the  distant  woodland  bounds 


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the  horizon,  and  the  velvet-skirted  lake  reflects  the  light 
from  the  open  prairie,  or  is  faintly  visible  from  the 
bosom  of  the  glen. 

Such  scenes  are  destitute  of  the  majesty  of  mountain 
aspects,  but  they  have  that  pervading,  tranquil  beauty 
which  forsakes  the  lofty  hill-side  and  the  hoary  cliff. 
They  present  Nature  in  her  simple  loveliness,  without 
her  sterner  aspect  and  masculine  attire. 

Of  the  character  of  our  wooded  districts  I  propose  to 
speak  elsewhere. 

The  topographical  features  of  the  upper  peninsula  of 
Michigan  are  very  different  from  those  of  the  lower, 
and  correspond  to  its  different  geological  character.  A 
large  part  of  the  country  is  rough  and  broken,  though 
it  nowhere  composes  very  elevated  mountain  chains. 
Rocks  of  the  silurian  and  paleozoic  systems  make  fre- 
quent outcrops,  and  rise  into  steep  ledges  and  sharp 
peaks.  In  the  Huron  and  Porcupine  mountains  they 
attain  heights  of  looo  to  1300  feet  above  Lake  Superior. 
These  consist  of  ranges  of  broken  hills  and  knobs,  often 
mere  naked  granite  rock,  bare  of  timber,  while  the  valleys 
between  are  heavily  timbered  and  fertile. 

The  lake  coast  presents  a  succession  of  bold  and  rocky 
cliffs,  with  leaping  streams  and  dunes  of  sand,  which  give 
many  strange  and  wild  features  to  the  scenery  of  that 
wonderful  region ;  wonderful  no  less  in  these,  than  in  its 
mineral  riches.  Some  of  these  features  I  propose  to 
notice  hereafter. 

Though  the  country  of  the  lower  lakes  lacks  so  much 
of  the  grand  and  picturesque  of  mountain  scenery,,  it  has 
never  failed  to  excite  the  enthusiastic  admiration  of  the 

No  doubt  much  of  the  interest  which  was  expressed  by 


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the  first  explorers  is  of  that  romantic  character  which 
belongs  to  a  region  imperfectly  known,  and  which  in  the 
relations  of  these  early  voyageurs  abounded  in  marvels. 
By  them  the  lake  scenery  was  beheld  under  circumstances 
very  different  from  those  which  surround  the  modem 

The  remoteness  from  the  ordinary  range  of  travel ;  the 
novel  mode  of  conveyance  ;  the  intercourse  with  Nature 
in  her  secret  haunts;  the  freedom  from  the  thousand 
cares  of  the  busy  world,  which  is  felt  in  her  qntrimmed 
forests  and  upon  her  heaving  waters, — these,  to  the  un- 
accustomed wanderer,  are  replete  with  a  rapturous  de- 
light,  and  invest  these  scenes  with  a  charm  apart  from 
their  intrinsic  interest.  All  this,  too,  is  aided  by  the 
strengthened  nerve  and  vigorous  health  which  are  engen- 
dered by  constant  exercise  and  exposure  to  pure  air. 
No  wonder  that  the  early  voyageurs  in  this  region  were 
thus  inspired,  and  often  dwelt  with  enthusiasm  even  on 
ordinary  scenes. 

They  stepped  into  the  light  canoe  and  were  afloat  upon 
a  tide,  to  the  sight  boundless  as  the  ocean,  but  fresh,  pure 
and  transparent  as  ether.  They  made  their  way  under  a 
variety  of  incidents;  with  difficulty  escaped  the  rising 
gale,  and  at  night  encamped  upon  the  beach,  where  the 
breaking  surf  lulled  them  to  sleep  ;  or  they  sought  shel- 
ter in  the  tall  forest,  and  listened  to  the  roar  of  the  night 
wind  in  the  pine  tops. 

Day  after  day,  month  after  month,  they  continued  to 
traverse  the  shores,  without  finding  the  bounds  of  these 
vast  fresh-water  seas.  At  one  time  the  shores  presented 
only  a  dark  mass  of  evergreens,  where  the  tangled  cedar 
spread  its  innumerable  boughs,  and  the  fir  shot  up  its 
straight,   sharp   cone.       At  another,   the   sight   pierced 


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through  vistas  of  openings,  disclosing  beyond  inviting 
prospects.  Again,  huge  walls  of  rock  reared  a  threaten- 
ing front,  caverns  yawned  beneath,  and  lofty  hills,  rock- 
ribbed,  rose  beyond.  They  picked  up  on.  the  shores 
many  curious  minerals,  precious  stones,  polished  by  the 
waves,  beautiful  agates,  and  metallic  ores,  among  which 
were  large  pieces  of  native  copper.  They  found  that  the 
savages  regarded  some  of  these  things  with  reverence, 
and  eager  curiosity  pictured  a  world  of  hidden  wonders. 

It  was  my  fortune  to  traverse  these  great  inland  seas  in 
almost  the  precise  manner  of  those  first  explorers,  and  to 
drink  at  the  same  sources  of  inspiration.  Even  now, 
when  a  few  days  may  suffice  to  convey  the  traveller  from 
one  end  to  the  other,  seeing  little  of  that  which  is  most 
worthy  his  observation,  so  little  change  have  time  and 
the  advance  of  a  vigorous  race  wrought  in  the  features  of 
many  parts  of  the  coast  scenery,  that  were  the  modern 
tourist  to  visit  these  in  the  only  mode  possible  for  obtain- 
ing a  correct  conception, — a  coasting  voyage  in  a  small 
boat, — he  would  find  little  occasion  to  reverse  those  early 
impressions.  He  would  be- surrounded  by  almost  the 
same  solitude  and  wildness. 

There  is  a  sublimity  about  these  vast  fresh-water  seas 
which  is  hardly  exceeded  by  the  ocean  itself.  Lake 
Superior  is  400  miles  long,  and  covers  an  area  of  30,000 
square  miles.  Standing  on  its  shore  the  eye  can  em- 
brace not  a  thousandth  part  of  its  surface ;  yet  to  the 
view  this  small  part  is  a  boundless  horizon,  united  only 
to  the  sky. 

The  water  of  this  lake  and  of  those  immediately  below 
is  of  amazing  purity  and  transparency.  This  is  attrib- 
utable to  their  rocky  beds  and  the  nature  of  the  border- 
ing country,  from  which  so  little  impurity  finds  its  way. 


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"  The  water,**  writes  one  of  the  early  journalizers,  "  was 
as  pure  and  transparent  as  air,  and  my  canoe  seemed  as 
if  it  hung  suspended  in  that  element.  It  was  impossible 
to  look  attentively  through  this  limpid  medium  at  the 
rocks  below  without  finding,  before  many  minutes,  your 
head  swim,  and  your  eyes  no  longer  able  to  behold  the 
dazzling  scene/* 

From  the  great  extent  of  surface  exposed  to  so  many 
conflicting  winds,  the  waters  in  these  great  basins  are 
seldom  quiet.  This  is  especially  the  case  with  Lake 
Superior,  which  may  be  styled — par  excellence — "the 
ocean  lake/* 

For  some  time  previous  to  a  gale,  even  when  no  wind 
is  perceptible,  I  have  seen  its  surface  agitated  by  tremen- 
dous swells,  and  the  waves  **  heave  their  sharp,  white 
helmets  **  on  the  dark  surface.  At  times,  when  calm  and 
glassy,  a  long,  dark  line  may  be  observed  advancing  rap- 
idly, and  of  a  sudden  the  wind  begins  to  freshen,  and 
finally  to  blow  with  vehemence.  It  is  the  coming  on  of 
the  tempest.  The  dark  line  is  the  vanguard  of  an  army 
of  waves,  which  soon  swell  into  enormous  billows  and 
hiss  with  gathered  foam.  Owing  to  the  suddenness  with 
which  these  storms  arise,  the  navigation  for  canoes  and 
boats  is  rendered  peculiarly  hazardous. 

The  effect  of  the  frequent  storms  and  the  almost  con- 
stant agitation  of  the  water  is  very  observable  upon  the 
coast.  Where  this  consists  of  rock,  as  is  the  general  case, 
particularly  if  it  be  sandstone,  an  abrading  process  is 
going  on,  which  occasions  huge,  cavernous  fissures,  ex- 
tending to  a  height  often  of  many  feet  above  the  water 
level,  rounded  columns,  supporting  battlements  of  rock, 
and  a  thousand  fantastic  forms. 

We  regard  rock  as  the  basis  of  what  we  are  adcus- 


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tomed  to  designate  as  the  "everlasting  hills/*  but  the 
power  of  the  liquid  element  is  so  gradually  extending  its 
dominion,  that  these  so-called  "  sure  foundations  *'  pre- 
sent but  a  feeble  obstacle  to  its  violence.  It  is  only  in 
the  resistance  offered  by  the  proverbially  "shifting** 
aands  that  an  enduring  barrier  is  found  to  the  fury  of 
the  storms. 

Many  miles  of  the  southern  shore,  near  the  eastern  end 
of  the  lake,  consist  of  broad  sand  beaches,  and  the  phe- 
nomena of  the  sea,  as  I  have  there  witnessed  them,  are 
sublime  beyond  description.  Far  abroad  the  white-caps 
are  seen  enlivening  the  dark  blue  surface  ;  but  as  the  gale 
sweeps  over  the  broad  expanse,  and  piles  the  waters  up 
on  the  opposing  shore,  the  power  of  the  sea,  compressed 
by  the  shallow  spape  allowed  it,  raises  huge  columns  of 
breakers,  which  tuipble  impetuously  toward  the  beach. 
The  line  of  gathering  waves  is  seen  far  out,  increasing 
into  one  long,  uplifjted  billow,  that  passes  majestically  on, 
each  moment  raisirig  higher  its  threatening  crest,  until,  no 
longer  able  to  sustain  the  accumulated  weight,  its  mar- 
gin bends  smoothly  forward,  as  if  rushing  over  a  preci- 
pice, then  comes  thundering  down  in  a  tremendous  sheet 
of  foam  and  flying  spray,  tearing  up  the  sands  with  a 
roar  that  seems  to  shake  the  coast.  Broken  in  its  majes- 
tic march,  it  now  spreads  into  lesser  breakers,  and  sweeps, 
foaming,  high  up  the  beach.  Between  the  successive 
ridges  the  liquid  element  seems  to  be  drawn  away,  recoil- 
ing from  the  shoaling  sands,  and  adding  height  and  vio- 
lence  to  the  accumulating  mass.  The  surf  from  these 
breakers  is  thrown  to  a  great  distance  up  the  beach,  de- 
positing its  suspended  sand,  and  then  as  instantly  re- 
cedes, to  await  the  next  succeeding  lash.  It  is  these 
breaking  surges,  with  their  surf  and  smothering  spray, 


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that  are  so  dangerous  to  stranded  vessels,  and  that  often 
overwhelm  boats  in  their  landing  which  had  outlived, 
until  that  moment,  the  whole  violence  of  the  storm. 

The  sublimity  of  this  scene  is  enhanced  by  the  con- 
tinued roar  that  accompanies  it.  This  is  not  alone  the 
dash  of  the  waters,  however  loud.  Distinct  from  the 
rush  of  waves  and  howling  of  the  wind  is  a  deep,  Bass 
undertone, — the  lowest  conceivable  note  in  the  music  of 
nature, — distinct,  incessant,  prolonged,  filling  up  every 
pause  in  the  awful  harmony.  The  first  resembles  the 
roar  of  the  wind  in  the  storm-tossed  forest ;  the  dread 
lower  tone  is  like  that  which  is  heard  at  Niagara,  and 
seems  to  be  produced  by  a  similar  cause,  the  concussion 
of  falling  waters. 

If,  as  poets  tell  us,  nature  is  full  of  melodies,  through 
all  her  works  are  hidden  cords  that  vibrate  to  the  music 
of  the  spheres, — strange,  deep  harmonies  that  haunt  the 
breast  of  the  woodland ;  the  wind's  low  sigh ;  the  voice 
which  gushes  forth  "  in  concord  of  sweet  sounds  '*  from 
animated  nature :  if  there  is  music  in  the  rippling  wave 
and  the  dashing  surge,  and  even  the  voiceless  sands  and 
dropping  caves  fill  the  soul  with  its  eloquence,  how 
more  sublime  a  melody  in  the  deep  bass  of  the  tempest, 
and  the  rush  of  the  thousand  battalions  of  its  army  of 
resistless  waters ! 

The  natural  beauty  of  "the  Detroit,**  as  the  "straits 
of  Erie  and  Huron  "  were  named  by  the  Jesuit  mission- 
aries,— the  first  white  men  that  set  foot  in  this  region, — 
had  been  recorded  with  many  words  of  admiration,  long 
before  the  day  of  its  colonization.  No  hills  bounded  the 
vision.  In  many  places  even  the  shores  spread  into  wide 
marshes.  But  all  was  on  a  scale  of  magnificence  to 
which  they  were  unaccustomed.     The  banks  were  densely 


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clothed  with  fresh  timber,  such  as  dwarfed  all  that  the 
Old  World  afforded.  The  straits — though  its  strong  cur- 
rent might  claim  for  it  the  name  of  Hver — varied  in 
width  from  one  to  five  miles,  and  was  adorned  with  many- 
green  islands,  of  which  the  largest  was  twelve  miles  in 
length.  Beasts  and  birds  of  rare  and  curious  aspect  were 
numerous  and  tame.  Fish  of  novel  kinds  and  unequalled 
flavor  sported  in  the  waters.  Fruits  of  many  sorts  and 
in  unexampled  abundance  grew  within  sight  and  reach. 
Everywhere  Nature  had  spread  a  feast  for  all  her  chil- 
dren, such  as  she  grants  only  to  the  most  fortunate. 

After  the  first  white  settlements  had  been  established, 
and  before  Christian  nations  had  contended  here  for  em- 
pire, the  country  was  not  greatly  changed.  A  half  cent- 
ury of  French  occupation  had  not  felled  the  wide-spread- 
ing forests,  which  remained  untouched,  except  upon  the 
immediate  border  of  the  stream.  But  here  the  colonists 
had  strung  together  their  hamlets,  almost  in  a  continuous 
village,  for  many  miles,  with  their  little  fields  and  pick- 
eted gardens,  their  orchards  and  windmills.  The  single 
street  followed  all  the  windings  of  the  shore,  avoiding 
only  the  marshes,  and  usurping  the  well-chosen  sites  of 
the  Indian  villages.  From  a  central  position  Fort  Pon- 
chartrain  frowned  its  rude  protection. 

The  quiet,  Arcadian  character  of  the  settlements  upon 
the  Detroit  had  been  but  little  affected  by  political 
changes  and  transfers  of  sovereignty,  even  so  late  as 
when  it  became  the  home  of  the  writer,  in  1835.  Let  me 
describe  the  river  scenery  as  it  then  appeared. 

Although  Detroit  had  grown  from  a  mere  stockade 
into  a  modernized  and  thriving  town,  and  an  energetic 
class  of  emigrants  had  begun  to  penetrate  the  interior, 
the  rural  character  of  these  straits  had  undergone  but 


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little  change.  The  main  roads  still  ran  along  the  banks, 
lined  with  the  same  kind  of  habitations,  in  most  cases  the 
very  same,  that  were  built  there  more  than  a  century  be- 
fore. Their  possessors  were  still  mainly  French,  though 
a  few  farms  had  changed  ownership,  and  a  somewhat 
larger  extent  of  fields  and  meadows  had  infringed  upon 
the  ancient  forest. 

On  the  British  side  of  the  channel,  tasteful  English  cot- 
tages, with  green  verandas,  intermingled  with  the  brown 
domiciles  of  the  French  Canadian,  and  gave  additional 
charm  to  its  rural  character. 

The  view  from  the  water  front  of  my  homestead  of 
half  a  century  ago — known  as  "  Windmill  Point  *' — was 
both  beautiful  and  animating.  The  noble  stream,  which 
has  pursued  a  nearly  westerly  course  from  the  Lake  Ste. 
Claire,  here  bends  southerly,  and  is  contracted  to  three- 
fourths  of  a  mile  in  width.  Owing  to  the  change  in  the 
trend  of  the  shore,  this  point  commands  a  very  extended 
view,  of  which  my  frontispiece  will  give  some  idea. 

Looking  eastward  is  seen  forest-crowned  Isle  au  Cochon 
(since  endowed  with  the  more  euphonious  name  of  Belle 
Isle)  two  miles  above  the  city,  and  occupying  the  centre 
of  the  stream.'  The  view  embraces  bot«h  channels.  On 
the  south  side,  the  main  channel  carries  the  vision  onward 
to  the  horizon  of  Lake  Ste.  Claire,  and  to  Peach  Island, 
the  once  stronghold  of  Pontiac.  Fronting  the  northerly 
channel,  lower  down,  are  conspicuous  the  brick  walls  and 
glittering  spires  of  the  "City  of  the  Straits.** 

Following  along  down  stream  we  discover,  on  the  im- 
mediate shore,  posts  and  reels,  indicating  a  fishery,  white- 
fish  being  at  that  time  largely  taken  in  our  river. 

Turning  the  eye  down  the  stream,  the  widening  chan- 
nel, visible  for  nearly  twenty  miles,  terminates   in  the 

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passage  between  Grosse  Isle  and  the  main  land  on  the 
west,  the  easterly  channel  and  Lake  Erie  being  shut 
from  view  by  a  wooded  point  on  the  Canada  shore.  The 
stream,  broadened  to  five  miles  in  width,  gives  to  view 
Fighting  Island,  the  scene  of  a  savage  massacre  in  the 
old  war  times,  and  many  small  grassy  isles,  marked  by 
lighthouses  and  the  huts  of  fishermen. 

The  view  across  the  water  embraces  her  Majesty's  do- 
minion for  a  continuous  coast-line  of  thirty  miles.  The 
spruce  town  of  Windsor  is  seen  opposite  its  larger  Amer- 
ican rival,  and  contrasts  strikingly  with  the  gray  and 
sleepy  old  village  of  Sandwich,  a  few  miles  lower  down. 

The  banks  on  both  sides  of  this  narrowed  portion  of 
the  strait  are  bold,  and  present,  in  many  places,  steep  cliffs 
of  twenty  to  thirty  feet  elevation. 

Between  these  two  villages  stands  the  old  Huron 
Church,  a  monument  of  the  olden  times  of  French  su- 
premacy, and  a  building  of  considerable  size  and  archi- 
tectural pretension  for  those  days.*  Its  decaying  walls 
are  propped  by  poles,  and  on  the  open  area  in  front  is 
planted  a  high  wooden  cross.  It  carries  the  mental  view 
backward  to  those  halcyon  days  of  simplicity  and  half 
feudal  domination,  when  the  lord  of  the  demesne  re- 
quired a  May-pole  to  be  planted  annually  before  his 
door  i  when  the  practical  had  not  banished  the  poetical ; 
and  when  religious  ceremonies  constituted  one  of  the 
chief  pleasures  of  the  people. 

Among  the  farm-houses  and  cottages  which  line  the 
banks,  those  of  the  times  of  the  French  regime  still  pre- 
dominate.      From  embowering   orchards,  immense  pear 

*  In  these  days  of  unrespect,  this  church  has  been  torn  down,  and  has 
given  place  to  a  brick,  gothic  cathedral,  with  an  episcopal  palace,  and  the 
college  buildings  of  St.  Benedict, 


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trees  rear  their  heads,  like  great  elms,  or  stand  in  groups 
upon  the  banks.  Several  windmills  give  animation  to 
the  picture,  as  their  white  arms  sway  in  the  breeze, 
that  seldom  fails  to  ripple  these  waters,  like  the  pinions 
of  some  huge  birds. 

One  of  those  picturesque  structures — the  only  one  in 
sight  on  the  American  side — occupies  a  low,  sandy  point 
in  our  front,  and  is  a  conspicuous  object  in  the  foreground 
of  my  picture.  It  is  built  of  timber,  the  lower  story 
being  filled  in  and  encased  with  stone.  Though  the  best 
of  all  the  structures  of  its  kind  upon  the  river,  it  lays  no 
claim  to  having  been  the  manor  windmill,  to  which,  in 
the  earlier  days,  the  settler  was  required  to  carry  his 

The  recently  created  and  already  immense  commerce 
of  the  lakes  has  brought  into  being  many  lines  of  steam 
and  sailing  vessels,  which  ply  daily  through  the  Straits. 

Sometimes  a  crowd  of  the  latter  meet  at  the  turn  of 
the  river,  a  little  below,  awaiting  a  change  of  wind ;  and 
it  is  a  spectacle  most  beautiful  and  inspiriting,  when  all 
at  once,  their  wings  spread  to  the  favoring  breeze,  they 
glide  past,  a  magnificent  group,  on  their  way  to  the 
neighboring  port. 

Gulls  glancing  to  and  fro,  with  their  long  emulous 
wings,  give  additional  life  to  the  scene ;  while  in  a  higher 
zone,  flocks  of  wild  ducks  and  geese  are  winging  their 
way  up,  their  undeviating,  swift  and  steady  flight  casting 
contempt  upon  those  duller-winged  sailor  craft  so  far  be- 

♦These  mills  have  long  since  been  disused,  and  all  have  now  (1885)  dis- 

t  It  is  one  of  the  singular  mutabilities  of  civilized  progress,  that  the  noble 
class  of  passenger  steamers — equal  in  all  appointments  to  the  finest  now  on 


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While  the  vernal  beauty  of  this  region  of  wide  waters 
and  boundless  forests  is  so  often  dwelt  upon,  it  does  not 
appear  that  the  impression  of  tameness  or  defect  is  pro- 
duced by  the  absence  of  mountain  and  rock,  and  the 
general  level  which  everywhere  meets  the  eye. 

There  is  a  grandeur  in  Alpine  scenery  which  is  elevat- 
ing to  the  soul,  but  this  also  has  its  own  claim  to  sub- 
limity. All  the  parts  which  compose  it  are  congruous. 
Land  and  water  are  in  harmony.  These  lakes,  like  the 
ocean,  give  the  impress  of  boundlessness,  and  lake,  forest, 
and  prairie  unite  to  form 

"  a  fitting  floor 
For  this  magnificent  temple  of  the  sky," 

Nor  is  variety  wanting.  The  watery  surface  is  never 
still  and  tame.  Now  tossed  at  the  sport  of  the  wind, 
now  sombre  beneath  the  shadows  of  passing  clouds,  now 
brightening  in  the  sun,  and  now  sleeping  with  an  infant's 
calmness,  it  has  at  all  times  a  charm  which  belongs  not  to 
the  **  dull,  tame  shore." 

There  is  a  human  interest,  too,  in  the  white  sails,  far  or 
near,  whether  scudding  before  the  gale  with  bellying 
canvas,  and  dashing  the  white  foam  from  the  prow,  or 
slow-moving  with  full-spread  wings  before  the  gentler 
breeze,  which  always  enchains  the  eye  and  betokens 
man's  empire  over  nature. 

In  the  broad  features  of  the  land,  also,  there  is  an  har- 
monious charm.  If  there  are  no  hills  to  lift  us  to  the 
clouds  there  are  none  to  limit  our  horizon  ;  to  shut  out 
the  sweet  sun  at  its  rising  and  its  setting ;  to  obscure  any 

the  ocean — which  plied  between  Detroit  and  Buffalo  a  half  century  ago, 
should  have  disappeared.  The  picturesque  groups  of  sailing  craft,  also, 
have  given  place  to  prosaic  lines  of  hulls  under  bare  poles,  towed  by  tugs. 


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of  the  lesser  lights  of  heaven,  or  the  glories  of  cloud-land 
and  of  sunset,  or  to  interrupt  the  imagination,  when  her 
**  magical  pinions  spread  wide*'  over,  a  domain  that 
from  its  very  uniformity  seems  the  more  limitless. 

"  The  great  heaven 
Seems  to  stoop  down  upon  the  scene  in  love, — 
A  nearer  vault  and  of  a  tenderer  blue, 
Than  that  which  bends  above  the  eastern  hills."  * 

♦  ''  The  Prairie."— Bryant. 

Digitized  by  CjOOQIC  . 



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**  Father  of  lakes!  "  thy  waters  bend 

Beyond  the  eagle's  utmost  view, 
When,  throned  in  heaven,  he  sees  thee  send 

Back  to  the  sky  its  world  of  blue. 

Boundless  and  deep,  the  forests  weave 

Their  twilight  shade  thy  borders  o*er, 
And  threatening- cliffs,  like  giants,  heave 

Their  rugged  forms  along  thy  shore.'* 

Saml.  G.  Goodrich. 


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AMONG  the  pleasantest  of  all  my  reminiscences  of 
travel  is  that  of  the  exploration,  in  connection  with 
the  geological  survey  of  Michigan,  of  the  coasts  of 
our  upper  peninsula,  in  1 840. 

The  party  for  this  expedition  was  composed  of  the 
State  geologist.  Dr.  Douglass  Houghton ;  his  two  assist- 
ants, C.  C.  Douglass  and  myself;  Fredk.  Hubbard,  in 
charge  of  instrumental  observations;  and,  for  a  part  of 
the  way,  H.  Thielson,  a  civil  engineer,  and  Charles  W. 
Penny,  a  young  merchant  of  Detroit,  supernumeraries. 

We  left  Detroit  in  the  steamer  "  Illinois,"  arriving  at 
Mackinac,  May  23.  Here  two  boat  crews  were  made 
up,  consisting  of  six  Canadians.  These  belonged  to  that 
class  so  famous  in  the  palmy  days  of  the  fur  trade  and 
the  French  regime,  now  extinct,  and  known  to  history 
as  ^^ coureurs  de  bois''  They  were  of  mixed  blood,  in 
some,  the  French,  in  others,  the  Indian,  predominating. 
Bred  to  the  business,  they  would  row  without  fatigue 
from  daybreak  until  dark, — twelve  or  fourteen  hours^ — 
unlade  the  boats,  pitch  the  tents  for  the  bourgeois,  pile 
up  the  baggage,  prepare  the  evening  meal,  and  then 
creep  under  their  blankets  in  the  open  air  and  enjoy 
the  sound  sleep  that  labor  bestows. 

The  principal  dependence  of  these  voyageurs  for  food 
— we  had  no  leisure  for  hunting  and  little  for  fishing — 

*  Read  before  the  Detroit  Pioneer  Society,  Jan.,  1874. 


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22  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

was  upon  a  soup  of  beans,  with  a  most  liberal  supply  of 
water,  into  which  a  piece  of  pork  was  dropped.  A  cake 
of  hard-bread  was  allowed  to  each. 

The  boats  for  the  passage  of  the  Sault  were  each 
about  twenty  feet  long  by  four  broad,  lightly  constructed 
of  pine  and  cedar,  with  sharp  bows,  and  were  drawn  out 
of  the  water  at  night.  At  the  Sault,  to  which  provis- 
ions had  been  forwarded,  one  of  these  boats  was  ex- 
changed for  a  "  Mackinac  barge,'*  sufficiently  large  to 
carry  two  months*  provisions  and  all  our  baggage. 

A  voyage  to  and  upon  our  great  lake  at  the  time  of 
my  story  was  by  no  means  the  easy  journey  it  is  now. 
North  of  Mackinac,  no  steamers  and  no  regular  line  of 
sail-vessels  traversed  the  waters.  The  ship-canal  around 
the  waters  of  the  Sault  had  not  then  been  projected. 
Furs  and  fish  constituted  the  only  commerce,  and  the 
latter  found  too  few  customers  to  make  the  trade  profit- 
able. The  American  Fur  Company  had  its  headquarters 
at  Sault  Ste.  Marie,  where  was  a  village  of  some  twenty 
or  thirty  houses,  mostly  of  logs,  and  the  United  States 
maintained  a  garrison.  Gn  the  opposite  shore  was  a 
small  English  settlement,  consisting  of  a  few  white- 
washed cabins  and  Episcopal  and  Baptist  mission  estab- 
lishments. Here  also  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company  had 
a  post. 

At  L'Anse  had  been  established  for  many  years  a 
factory  of  the  American  Fur  Company,  the  only  build- 
ings being  a  log  house,  storehouse,  and  barn,  and  near 
by  a  Baptist  mission,  consisting  of  a  dozen  neat  huts  of 
logs  and  bark.  Near  the  extreme  west  end  of  the  lake 
this  company  had  another  factory  or  trading-post,  at 
La  Pointe. 

These  were  the  only  white  settlements  on  the  south 


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shore  of  this  great  lake.  At  two  or  three  points,  tran- 
sient fishing-camps  might  be  met  with.  Else,  all  this 
region  was  wild  and  solitary  almost  as  when,  a  century- 
earlier,  it  was  traversed  by  the  canoe  of  the  Jesuit  mis- 
sionary or  echoed  to  the  rude  songs  of  the  wild  employ- 
ees of  the  fur  traders.  In  a  large  part  of  the  country,  on 
the  southern  border,  within  the  territory  of  the  United 
States,  the  Indian  title  had  not  been  extinguished. 
But  the  settlements  of  the  aboriginal  race  were  rare; 
probably  the  whole  region  did  not  number  1000  souls. 

Apart  from  the  scientific  animus  of  the  expedition, 
our  party,  in  the  ardor  of  youth,  could  not  but  look  for- 
ward to  the  new  and  strange  scenes  which  awaited  us 
with  somewhat  of  the  enthusiasm  that  inspired  the  first 
explorers  of  this  region  of  vast  forests  and  inland  seas. 
We  were  to  voyage  almost  in  the  same  mode  as  those 
travellers,  to  witness  scenes  as  yet  little  changed,  and 
partaking  of  the  same  character  of  solitude  and  mystery. 

Though  I  wander  from  my  narrative,  I  must  linger  a 
moment  over  the  impression  produced  by  the  romantic 
island  which  was  our  starting-point,  Michilimackinac. 

Connected  with  the  story  of  the  early  wanderings  of 
the  French,  their  perilous  missions  in  the  far  wilderness, 
the  fur  trade,  with  its  fort,  its  agents,  its  coureurs  de 
bois  and  numerous  employees,  its  bustle,  show,  and  dis- 
sipation, its  traffic  and  its  enormous  profits,  and  with  the 
numerous  native  tribes  which  here  rendezvoused, — no 
place  in  the  North-west  possesses  greater  historic  and 
traditionary  interest.  The  town  retained,  as  it  still  does, 
much  of  its  old-time  character.  The  crescent  bay  in 
front  was  still  a  lounging-place  for  the  American  Ishma- 
elite,  whose  huts  often  covered  the  beach  ;  and  this  was 
the  last  place  on  the  frontier  where  the  Mackinac  barge 


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24  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

might  be  manned  and  equipped,  as  a  century  ago,  by  a 
motley  crew  of  half-breed  voyageurs. 

The  natural  beauties  and  wildness  of  the  island,  its 
situation,  enthroned  at  the  apex  of  the  peninsula  of 
Michigan  and  embracing  magnificent  views  of  water  and 
island,  its  lake  breezes  and  pure  cold  air,  and  the  excel- 
lence of  its  white-fish  and  trout,  have  long  made  it  one 
of  the  most  attractive  of  watering-places.  The  proposal 
to  conserve  it  as  a  national  park  is  worthy  of  its  char- 
acter, and  it  is  to  be  hoped  that  thus  its  natural  beauties, 
and  what  remains  of  its  woods,  will  be  preserved  forever 
to  the  nation. 

On  the  morning  of  May  26  we  took  our  departure 
from  Mackinac,  with  a  moderate  breeze  and  a  clear  sky, 
— a  thing  to  be  noted  where  fogs  are  so  frequent, — and 
coasting  by  St.  Martin's  Island,  entered  les  Cheneaux. 

The  river,  or  more  properly  Strait  of  Ste.  Marie,  is  a 
series  of  channels,  winding  amid  innumerable  islands. 
Some  of  these,  as  St.  Joseph  and  Drummond,  cover 
many  square  mifes,  but  the  greater  number  are  much 
smaller,  and  often  occupy  only  a  few  acres.  They  line 
the  whole  northern  coast  of  Lake  Huron,  and  are  oc- 
casioned by  the  junction  between  the  silurian  lime  rocks 
and  the  azoic  or  primary  rocks  of  Canada. 

These  islands  are  but  little  elevated  above  the  water, 
and  are  wooded  to  the  edge  with  cedar,  fir  and  birch. 
The  evergreen  trees  are  completely  shrouded  in  a  tapes- 
try of  parasitic  moss.  This  is  a  true  lichen,  and  is  not 
allied  to  the  great  Southern  epiphyte  which  it  so  strongly 
resembles.  It  hangs  in  long  festoons,  giving  the  woods 
a  fantastic  and  gloomy  appearance,  but  the  effect  is 
very  beautiful.  What  are  called  "les  Cheneaux**  are 
passages  among  islands  of  this  description.    They  are 


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seldom  wide  enough  to  admit  any  but  the  smallest  craft, 
and  so  intricate  as  to  form  a  perfect  labyrinth,  where 
any  but  the  practised  mariner  might  wander  long,  **  in 
endless  mazes  lost." 

To  the  north  and  east  of  St.  Joseph  Island  the  Ste. 
Marie  parts  the  two  systems  of  rocks,  and  an  instant 
change  takes  place  in  the  character  of  the  scenery. 
Instead  of  low,  timbered  shores,  the  islands  rise  in  abrupt 
cones,  rounded  and  water-worn,  to  the  height  of  twenty 
to  one  hundred  feet,  presenting  bare  knobs  of  hornblende 
and  quartz.  The  surfaces  are  worn  smooth,  by  the  ac- 
tion of  glaciers,  and  are  frequently  covered  with  a  thick 
carpet  of  lichens.  Among  these  is,  in  profusion,  the 
beautiful  reindeer  moss.  A  few  miles  to  the  right,  in 
Canada,  hills  of  granite  rise  to  a  height  of  500  to  1000 
feet,  and  form  a  background  to  the  view. 

To  the  geologist  these  low  hills  and  rounded  knobs 
have  an  absorbing  interest.  Agassiz  tells  us  that  Amer- 
ica has  been  falsely  denominated  the  new  world  ;  that 
"  hers  was  the  first  dry  land  lifted  out  of  the  waters ; 
hers  the  first  shore  washed  by  the  ocean  that  enveloped 
all  the  earth  beside."  The  antiquary  finds  in  this  por- 
tion of  America  a  very  respectable  antiquity.  To  its 
known  civil  history  he  adds  evidence  of  the  existence  of 
a  race  of  men  familiair  with  this  region  ages  before  its 
discovery  by  the  French,  who  were  by  no  means  despic- 
able cultivators  of  the  arts,  and  he  infers  a  human  his- 
tory— could  he  but  gather  the  full  record — possibly  as 
ancient  as  the  pyramids.  But  science  points  to  a  period 
infinitely  more  remote.  We  had  reached  and  stood 
upon  what  was  the  skeleton  of  our  earth,  when  but  a 
crust  above  the  seething  fires  beneath,  not  only  ages 
before  man  had  a  being  upon  its  surface,  but  probably 



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26  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

ages  before  what  we  call  the  **  Old  World  "  had  Been 
raised  by  the  forces  of  nature  above  the  universal  ocean. 
Here  was  antiquity  unmeasured  by  any  human  standard. 
Time  itself  was  young  then.  This  backbone  of  the  ear- 
liest continent  still  stretches  unbroken,  from  the  Atlan- 
tic to  the  western  plains.  During  the  unnumbered 
years  in  which  the  surface  of  the  earth  has  been  changed 
by  successive  upheavals  and  depressions  it  has  stood 

Around  the  base  of  these  low  granite  and  metamor- 
phic  hills,  in  the  bed  of  the  river,  lies  a  sandstone  rock, 
which  we  shall  find  rising  into  cliffs  along  the  coast  of 
the  lake  above.  It  is  the  lowest  of  the  paleozoic 
series,  the  first  rock  which  brings  to  our  eyes  evidence 
of  life  upon  this  continent,  and,  if  geologists  speak  truth, 
the  first  which  bears  witness  to  the  dawn  of  life  upon 
our  earth.  Of  the  earliest  forms  of  organic  life  two 
only  have  with  certainty  been  found  in  this  rock,  the 
lingula  and  the  trilobite.  And  these,  in  the  perfection 
and  adaptation  of  their  structure,  equal  the  most  perfect 
beings  of  their  kind  which  exist  at  the  present  day. 
Thus  the  first  record  of  the  earliest  life,  upon  the  most 
ancient  sea  beach  which  the  earth  affords,  is  in  apparent 
condemnation  of  the  development  hypothesis  of  Darwin. 
Are  they  then  evidence  of  sudden  and  independent  crea- 
tion, or  must  we  believe  that  these  forms  had  their  origin 
in  some  yet  more  remote  and  obscure  past,  and  that 
we  behold  in  these  silurian  rocks  only  their  perfect 
development  ? 

Following  the  northerly  channel,  the  Ste.  Marie  soon 
expands  into  a  broad  and  lovely  sheet  of  water,  twelve 
miles  long,  called  Lake  St.  George.  We  have  escaped 
from  the  labyrinth  of  rocky  isles,  the  southern  shores 


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are  again  densely  wooded,  while  the  azoic  rocks  are  seen 
on  the  Canada  side,  stretching  ofiF  to  the  north-west,  and 
terminating  in  a  series  of  mountainous  knobs, — the  ver- 
tebrae of  the  world  before  the  Flood.  To  this  lake  the 
Narrows  succeed,  and  here  for  the  first  time  the  Ste. 
Marie  assumes  the  appearance  of  a  river,  being  con- 
tracted to  less  than  1000  feet,  with  a  current  and  occa- 
sional rapids. 

We  passed  frequent  memorials  of  the  Indian  inhab- 
itants. It  is  not  to  be  wondered  at  that  this  region 
abounds  with  them,  since  with  an  eye  to  natural  beauty 
this  poetical  race  selects  the  loveliest  spots  for  the  rest- 
ing-places, both  of  the  living  and  the  dead.  The  graves 
were  close  cabins  of  logs,  thatched  with  bark,  and  the 
places  selected  are  among  the  most  beautiful  and  ele- 
vated sites,  as  if  the  souls  of  the  departed  braves  could 
hear  the  echoing  paddle  and  watch  the  approach  of  the 
distant  canoe.  The  burial-place  of  the  chief  is  desig- 
nated by  a  picketed  enclosure,  and  here  it  is  customary 
for  the  voyaging  Indian  to  stop,  kindle  his  camp-fire  at 
the  head  of  the  grave,  and,  on  departing,  to  leave  within 
the  enclosure  a  small  portion  of  the  provisions  he  has 
cooked,  for  the  use  of  the  occupant.  A  flat  cedar  stake 
at  the  head  exhibits  in  red  paint  the  figure  of  some 
bird  or  brute, — the  family  totem  of  the  deceased.  Often 
is  seen  a  small  cross,  erected  as  an  emblem  of  his  faith 
in  Holy  Catholic  Church,  while  close  by,  in  strange  con- 
trast, is  that  evidence  of  his  unalterable  attachment  to 
the  creed  of  his  fathers, — the  basket  of  provisions  that 
is  to  support  his  journeying  to  the  land  of  spirits. 

The  camping-ground  of  the  voyageur  has  been  that 
of  the  Indian  from  time  immemorial.  The  wigwam 
poles  are  recognized  from  a  distance,  in  some  open  glade 


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28  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

along  the  shore,  left  standing  after  the  vagabond  in- 
mates have  departed.  And  there  is  often  to  be  found 
an  old  canoe,  a  camp-kettle,  a  cradle  swinging  from  the 
poles,  and  invariably  a  litter  of  picked  bones  and  dirty 
rags,  completely  covering  the  spot,  with  the  burnt 
brands  and  ashes  of  the  cabin  fire  in  the  midst.  Some- 
times we  meet  a  rude  altar  of  stones,  on  which  are  laid 
bits  of  tobacco  and  other  petty  offerings  to  the  Manitou. 
Sometimes  the  scene  is  varied  by  the  cabin  of  a  Cana- 
dian Frenchman,  who,  unable  to  resist  the  charm  of 
savage  life,  is  bringing  up  his  family  of  half-breed  chil- 
dren in  a  condition  little  akin  to  civilization. 

Early  on  the  morning  of  May  30  we  reached  the 
Sault,  and  proceeded  to  encamp  at  the  head  of  the  rapids. 
This  required  a  portage  of  several  rods.  The  remainder 
of  the  day  was  spent  at  the  village,  in  witnessing  the  novel 
mode  of  fishing,  and  other  sights  pertaining  to  this  re- 
mote frontier  post. 

Preparations  for  our  lake  expedition  being  completed, 
on  the  first  of  June  we  took  our  departure  from  the  head 
of  the  rapids.  Here  lay  at  anchor  a  beautiful  light  brig 
belonging  to  the  American  Fur  Company,  and  which 
bore  the  name  of  its  founder,  John  Jacob  Astor.  Close 
by  its  side  was  a  schooner,  which  had  been  built  by  the 
Ohio  Fishing  and  Mining  Company,  at  Cleveland,  and 
had  just  made  the  portage  around  the  rapids.  Another 
vessel  was  preparing  for  a  similar  transportation.  With 
three  such  crafts  floating  on  its  bosom,  our  great  lake 
seemed  to  have  already  lost  something  of  its  old-time 
character,  when,  a  wide  waste  of  waters,  it  was  traversed 
onlyby  the  canoe  of  the  Indian  and  voyageur.  Its  im- 
portance as  a  great  commercial  highway  had  thus  begun 


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30  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

to  be  foreshadowed,  but,  in  fact,  its  waters  still  laved  a 
savage  wilderness.* 

Some  natural  phenomena  pertaining  to  a  high  north- 
ern latitude  had  begun  to  exhibit  what  were  marvels  to 
our  unaccustomed  eyes.  One  of  these  was  the  length- 
ened twilight,  the  sun  continuing  to  irradiate  the  horizon 
with  a  bright  flash,  until  nearly  midnight.  In  fact,  it  was 
quite  possible  to  tell  the  hour  of  the  night  at  any  time, 
by  the  light  which  indicated  the  sun's  position.  The 
Auroras,  too,  were  surpassingly  brilliant ;  often  the  elec- 
tric rays  streamed  up  from  every  point  of  the  horizon, 
meeting  at  the  .zenith  and  waving  like  flame.  I  note 
these  simple  and  common  phenomena  because  they  were 
novel  to  us,  and  it  is  only  those  who  travel  and  encamp 
in  the  open  air  who  enjoy  to  the  full  such  scenes  of 
beauty  and  wonder. 

A  summer  temperature  had  now  set  in,  and  we 
witnessed  another  characteristic  of  this  high  latitude, — 
the  sudden  advance  of  the  season.  During  the  three 
days  of  our  stay  at  this  place,  vegetation,  which  a  week 
before  had  hardly  commenced,  sprung  into  active  life. 
Trees  then  bare  were  now  in  full  leaf.  This  phenomenon, 
though  common  to  our  side  of  the  Atlantic,  we  had  no- 
where else  seen  so  conspicuously  displayed. 

Time  will  not  permit  a  narrative  of  our  journey,  a  two- 
months'  coasting  voyage  along  the  whole  southern  side 
of  Lake  Superior.  Nor  can  I  speak,  except  briefly,  of 
the  beauties  of  the  scenery,  most  of  which  is  now  so  well 

*  The  immense  commerce  since  built  up  will  appear  from  the  statement, 
that  in  1886  the  number  of  vessels  which  passed  through  the  Ste.  Mary's 
Falls  Canal  was  6203,  carrying  3,701,000  tons  and  over  50,000  passengers. 

Digitized  by  CjOOQIC  V 

COASTWG.  3 1 

known  ;  of*  Gros  Cap  and  Point  Iroquois,  those  rock- 
built  pillars  of  Hercules  that. guard  the  entrance,  and 

"  like  giants  stand. 
To  sentinel  enchanted  land ; " 

of  White-fish  Point  and  its  surroundings ;  of  the  grand, 
wild  and  varied  rocky  coast ;  of  the  many  beautiful 
streams,  flashing  with  cascades,  and  filled  with  the 
speckled  trout ;  or  of  our  scientific  researches  and  ob- 
servations. I  will  venture  only  to  relate  an  occasional  in- 
cident, and  to  delineate  some  features  of  the  coast  scenery 
which  seem  to  me  to  have  been  too  little  noticed  or  too 
imperfectly  described  by  others. 

Westward  from  White-fish  Point  stretch  for  many  miles 
broad  beaches  of  sand  and  gravel,  backed  by  hills  clothed 
with  Norway-pines,  spruce,  hemlock,  cedar,  and  birch. 
These  beaches  form  extensive  fishing-grounds,  of  which 
parties  had  already  availed  themselves.  Every  one 
knows  the  superiority  of  Lake  Superior  white-fish,  in  size 
and  flavor,  pver  those  of  the  lower  waters.  Yet  in  relat- 
ing the  following  experience  I  am  aware  of  the  risk 
which  I  run  of  being  set  down  as  the  retailer  of  a  '*  fish 

As  we  were  rowing  along  the  beach,  some  object  was 
descried  at  a  distance,  making  out  of  the  water.  All,  at 
once,  gave  vigorous  chase.  On  our  near  approach,  the 
animal,  which  proved  to  be  an  otter,  dropped  upon  the 
sand  a  fish  which  he  had  just  hauled  out,  and  retreated 
into  the  lake.  This  fish,  which  was  scarcely  dead,  was  of 
a  size  so  extraordinary  that  it  might  truly  be  called — the 
fish,  not  the  story — a  whopper !  It  measured  two  and  a 
half  feet  in  length,  and  one  foot  five  inches  in  circumfer- 
ence.    We  had  no  accurate  means  of  weighing,  but  its 


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32  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

weight  was  fairly  estimated  at  fifteen  pounds !  *  The  flesh 
was  delicious  in  proportion,  and  made  our  whole  party 
several  capital  meals. 

These  beaches  terminate  at  a  deep  harbor  called  the 
Grand  Marais.  Hitherto  the  hills  or  dunes  of  sand  have 
been  of  no  great  elevation.  But  now  occurs  a  phenom- 
enon which,  though  it  seems  not  to  have  been  classed 
among  the  wonders  of  this  region,  nor  described  in  any 
books  of  travel,  so  far  as  I  am  aware,  may  well  be  called 
extraordinary,  and  worthy  a  place  among  the  scenic  won- 
ders of  America.  It  is  a  miniature  Sahara,  several  miles 
in  extent,  and  in  many  of  its  peculiar  features  resembling 
those  lifeless,  sandy  deserts  which  are  so  distinguishing 
phenomena  in  some  parts  of  the  world.  It  is  known  to 
the  French  voyageurs  as  "  Le  Grand  Sable'- 

Steep  cliffs  are  first  observed  rising  from  the  water 
with  a  very  uniform  face,  of  about  200  feet  in  height, 
beyond  which  are  visible  barren  dunes,  rising  still  higher 
in  the  distance.  On  our  approach  the  whole  appeared 
like  lofty  hills  enveloped  in  fog.  This  proved  to  be  noth- 
ing less  than  clouds  of  sand,  which  the  winds  were  con- 
stantly sweeping  towards  the  lake,  and  which  formed  a 
mist  so  dense  as  to  conceal  completely  the  real  character 
of  the  coast. 

On  ascending  these  steep  and  wasting  cliffs,  a  scene 
opens  to  view  which  has  no  parallel  except  in  the  great 
deserts.  For  an  extent  of  many  miles  nothing  is  visible 
but  a  waste  of  sand  ;  not  under  the  form  of  a  monotonous 
plain,  but  rising  into  lofty  cones,  sweeping  in  graceful 
curves,  hurled  into  hollows  and  spread  into  long-extended 
valleys.  A  few  grass  roots  and  small  shrubs  in  some 
places  find  a  feeble  subsistence,  and  are  the  only  vegeta- 
tion.    But  thrusting  through  the  sand  are  several  tops 


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34  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

of  half-buried  pines,  barkless,  and  worn  dry  and  craggy 
by  the  drifting  soil,  while  below  the  surface  their  bodies 
appear  to  be  in  perfect  preservation.  To  our  imagina- 
tion they  seem  the  time-worn  columns  of  an  antique 
temple,  whose  main  structure  has  long  ago  tumbled  into 
dust,  or  been  buried,  like  the  ruins  of  Egypt,  beneath 
the  drift  of  many  centuries. 

The  surface  sand  is  mostly  packed  quite  hard,  and  may 
be  trod  as  a  solid  floor.  TJiis,  in  many  places,  is  strewed 
thickly  with  pebbles ;  the  deep  hollows  present  vast 
beds  of  them.  Among  tjiese  are  a  great  variety  of  pre- 
cious stones  common  to  the  rocks  of  the  country ;  agates, 
chalcedony,  jasper,  quartz  of  every  shade  of  color  and 
transparency,  with  hornstone,  trap,  and  other  minerals. 
All  are  worn  smooth,  and  often  beautifully  polished  by 
the  sharp,  drifting  sands,  and  many  rich  specimens  were 
obtained.  We  were  reminded  of  the  valley  of  diamonds 
in  the  Arabian  tales,  which  it  was  the  fortune  of  Sinbad 
to  discover,  in  a  scarcely  less  singular  depository. 

In  the  rear  of  this  desert,  about  two  miles  from  the 
coast,  timber  is  again  met  with.  Here,  just  at  the  edge 
of  the  wood,  a  small  and  beautiful  lake  lies  embosomed  ; 
on  the  one  side,  a  rich  tract  of  maple  forest;  on  the  other, 
barren  and  shifting  sand.  It  broke  on  our  view,  from 
amidst  the  realm  of  desolation,  as  did  the  unexpected 
fountain  to  which  Saladin  led  the  weary  cavalier,  Sir 
Kenneth,  over  the  sandy  plains  of  Palestine,  as  told  in 
the  magic  pages  of  Scott.  We  named  it,  not  inaptly,  I 
think,  "  the  diamond  of  the  desert."  Around  this  sheet 
of  water  we  found  snow,  on  the  tenth  of  June,  in  large 
quantities,  buried  beneath  a  few  inches  of  sand. 

From  the  diamond  lake  issues  a  small  stream,  which, 
after  making  its  way  through  the  sand,  reaches  the  clay 


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36  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

that  constitutes  the  base  of  these  dunes,  and  tumbles  a 
perfect  cascade  into  the  greater  lake.  This  rivulet  sepa- 
rates the  dense  maple  forest  which  lies  on  the  east  from 
cliffs  of  driven  sand,  which  rise  abruptly  to  a  height  that 
far  overlooks  the  woodland,  and  are  the  commencement 
of  the  grand  and  leafless  sables. 

The  view  on  ascending  these  is  most  entrancing.  On 
the  one  side  stretches  beneath,  and  far  away,  the  verdant 
forest ;  while,  by  a  transition  as  sudden  as  it  is  opposite 
in  character,  on  the  other  side  every  feature  of  the  land- 
scape seems  as  if  buried  beneath  hills  of  snow.  The 
desert  surface  might  be  Hkened  to  that  of  an  angry  ocean, 
only  that  the  undulations  are  far  more  vast,  and  the  wave 
crests  more  lofty  than  the  billows  of  the  sea  in  its  wildest 
commotion.  Looking  upward  from  one  of  these  im- 
mense basins,  where  only  the  sand-wave  meets  the  sky, 
the  beholder  is  impressed  with  a  sublimity  of  a  novel 
kind,  unmixed  with  the  terror  which  attends  a  storm 
upon  the  Alps  or  on  the  ocean.  The  scene,  wild  and 
unique,  may  well  claim  this  brief  praise,  though  hitherto 
unsung,  and  lacking  the  charm  of  historical  association, 
— '*  the  consecration  and  the  poet's  dream.** 

Twelve  miles  beyond  this  singular  region  the  beaches 
terminate,  and  the  sand-rock  makes  its  appearance  on  the 
coast,  in  a  range  of  abrupt  cliffs.  These  are  **  The  Pict- 
ured Rocks."  They  have  been  often  described,  but  no 
description  that  I  have  seen  conveys  to  my  mind  a  satis- 
factory impression  of  their  bold,  wild,  and  curious  fut- 
ures. In  attempting  to  convey  some  clear  comprehen- 
sion of  them,  I  can  only  hope  to  impart  a  faithful, 
though  it  be  a  feeble  conception  of  the  peculiar  features 
of  this  marvel  of  the  Northern  Lakes. 

These   cliffs  are  composed  of  the  same  gray-and-red 


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jg  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

sand-rock  which  I  have  alluded  to  as  the  lowest  of  the 
paleozoic  or  silurian  rocks.  It  appears  in  many  places  on 
the  coast,  and  probably  forms  a  large  part  of  the  bed  of 
the  lake.  The  cliffs  here  rise  into  a  mural  precipice, 
springing  perpendicularly  from  the  deep  waters  to  the 
height  of  from  80  to  250  feet ;  and  for  the  distance  of 
fifteen  miles,  except  in  one  or  two  places,  are  destitute 
of  a  beach  upon  which  even  a  canoe  may  be  landed.  So 
dangerous  is  the  coast  that  vessels  all  give  it  a  wide 
berth,  passing  at  too  great  distance  for  accurate  view. 
A  small  boat  that  lingers  runs  imminent  risk,  from  the 
liability  of  this  lake  to  sudden  gales,  and  the  traverse  is 
attempted  only  during  a  perfect  calm.  The  sand-rock 
lies  in  thick  strata  of  varying  degrees  of  hardness,  from  a 
coarse  crag  of  the  hardest  cemented  pebbles  to  a  friable 
rock  of  aggregated  sand.  The  predominant  color  is  gray, 
sometimes  light,  often  dark  and  rusty,  and  stained  by 
oxides  of  iron  and  copper,  with  which  the  materials  are 
charged.  Bearing  in  mind  these  characteristics,  the  va- 
riety of  aspects  and  the  strange  forms  that  these  cliffs  as- 
sume will  find  a  ready  explanation. 

The  great  diversity  of  hues  that  give  so  beautiful  and 
variegated  an  appearance  to  large  portions  of  the  sur- 
face, and  from  which  the  cliffs  derive  their  name,  are 
owing  to  the  metallic  oxides  which  have  filtered  through 
the  porous  stone  in  watery  solutions  and  left  their  stains 
upon  the  surface.  Beautiful  as  is  the  effect,  it  is  due  to 
candor  to  say  that  to  my  eyes  there  appeared  but  very 
imperfect  representations  of  those  various  forms  in  the 
vegetable  and  animal  kingdoms  which  figure  in  some 
highly-colored  and  fanciful  descriptions  in  travellers* 
tales.  Too  extravagant  an  idea  could  scarcely  be  con- 
veyed of  the  exceeding  brilliancy  of  the  coloring;  but  in 


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regard  to  what  artists  style  the  **  laying  on,"  the  picture 
presented  a  much  closer  resemblance  to  a  house-painter's 
bucket,  upon  the  outside  of  which  paints  of  all  colors 
have  trickled  down  in  tapering  streams.  They  represent 
not  so  much  the  picture  which  Nature  has  painted,  as  the 
palette  upon  which  she  has  cleaned  her  pencils.  Every 
hue  of  the  rainbow,  besides  black  and  white,  and  in 
every  possible  circumstance  of  shade  and  alternation,  are 
drawn  in  long  lines^  covering  thousands  of  feet  of  surface. 

Near  the  western  extremity  of  the  range,  these  colors 
assume  a  surpassing  brilliancy,  with  a  metallic  lustre. 
Streaming  over  a  gracefully  curved  surface,  having  an 
area  of  several  thousand  yards,  they  mimic,  on  a  gigantic 
scale,  the  stripes  on  our  national  flag,  as  it  waves  in  the 
breeze  ;  or,  passing  down  a  fractured  ledge,  are  contorted 
into  long  zigzag  lines. 

Upon  close  examination,  these  colors  are  found  to 
proceed  from  slimy  exudations,  and  to  retain  their  brill- 
iance only  while  fresh.  When  the  face  of  the  cliff  has 
become  dry,  they  possess  a  more  faint  and  often  mottled 
appearance.  Then  may  sometimes  be  found  depicted, 
upon  a  background  of  white,  yellow  or  dun,  as  if  rudely 
dabbed  in  by  the  artist,  those  vague  similitudes,  in 
which  the  imagination  may  realize  verdant  landscapes  or 
fierce  battle  scenes ;  perhaps,  if  sufficiently  vivid,  a  full 
set  of  Raphael's  Cartoons.  As  a  whole,  the  general  ef- 
fect of  the  coloring  is  so  striking,  that  the  appellation 
conferred  upon  these  cliffs  is  well  deserved.  Thus 
strangely  drawn,  upon  as  strange  a  canvas,  they  add, 
at  least,  wonderful  beauty  and  effect  to  the  greater  won- 
ders which  Nature  has  here  displayed. 

But  color  is  far  from  being  the  most  notable  feature 
of  the  Pictured  Rocks.     The  disintegrating  material  of 


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which  the  rock  is  composed  renders  it  very  susceptible 
to  the  effects  of  the  elements.  These  cliffs  present  indu- 
bitable evidence  that  the  lake  once  washed  them  at  a 
height  many  feet  above  its  present  level.  And  as  the 
strata  are  of  differing  degrees  of  hardness,  they  have 
been  worn  by  the  waves  into  a  variety  of  forms.  Huge 
cavernous  fissures  penetrate  the  massive  wall,  often  to 
the  distance  of  several  hundred  feet,  piercing  through 
its  great  projecting  buttresses,  and.  leaving  the  solid 
mountain  supported  by  bare  pillars.  These,  in  turn, 
are  worn  by  the  eddying  waters  into  cylindrical  columns, 
connected  by  arches  that  sometimes  spring  with  great 
regularity  to  a  vast  height. 

An  immense  angular  projection  of  the  cliff,  known  to 
voyageurs  as  *' La  Portaille,'*  exhibits  on  its  three  sides 
arches  of  this  construction,  one  of  which  springs  to  a 
height  of  about  150  feet.  The  openings  form  passages 
into  a  great  cavern,  or  more  properly  a  vestibule,  the 
roof  of  which  is  beyond  the  reach  of  our  longest  oars, 
and  which  conducts  through  the  entire  projecting  mass, — 
a  distance  of  not  less  than  500  feet.  Entering  with  our 
boat  into  this  natural  rock-built  hall,  its  yawning  caverns 
and  overhanging  walls  strike  a  sudden  awe  into  the  soul. 
Echo  gives  back  the  voice  in  loud  reverberations,  and 
the  discharge  of  a  musket  produces  a  roar  like  a  clap 
of  thunder.  "  Even  the  slight  motion  of  the  waves," 
writes  Governor  Cass,  -*  which  in  the  most  profound  calm 
agitates  these  internal  seas,  swept  through  the  deep 
caverns  with  a  noise  of  distant  thunder,  and  died  upon 
the  ear,  as  it  rolled  forward  in  the  dark  recesses  inacces- 
sible to  human  observation  ;  no  sound  more  melancholy 
or  more  awful  ever  vibrated  upon  human  nerves.  Rest- 
ing in  a  frail  canoe,  upon  the  limpid  waters,  we  seemed 


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.  2  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

almost  suspended  in  air,  so  pellucid  is  the  element  upon 
which  we  floated.  In  gazing  upon  the  towering  battle- 
ments which  impended  ov&r  us,  and  from  which  the 
smallest  fragment  would  have  destroyed  us,  we  felt,  and 
felt  intensely,  our  own  insignificance.  No  splendid 
cathedral,  no  temple  built  with  human  hands,  no  pomp 
of  worship,  could  ever  impress  the  spectator  with  such 
deep  humility,  and  so  strong  a  conviction  of  the  im- 
mense distance  between  him  and  the  Almighty  Archi- 
tect."* Enthusiastic  language!  and  yet  it  cannot  be 
deemed  exaggerated. 

The  number  and  perfection  of  the  wave-created  pil- 
lars meeting  the  eye  at  every  turn, — and  which  seem 
formed  to  support  the  immense  weight  above, — the  vari- 
ous forms  of  the  arches  and  of  the  overhanging  rock, 
bear  a  close  resemblance  to  the  orders  of  human  archi- 
tecture. The  rotundity  of  the  columns  is,  in  general,  well 
preserved,  and  their  tops  swell  into  capitals.  The  sup- 
ported mass,  which  is  seldom  less  than  100  feet  in  thick- 
ness, often  assumes  characteristic  forms,  corresponding 
to  the  mock  design.  In  one  instance,  for  nearly  half  a 
mile,  it  resembles  a  vast  entablature,  of  which  the  cor- 
nice,— ^jutting  at  least  20  feet,  with  a  curve  whose  grace 
is  not  excelled  by  the  best  sculpture, — the  pictured 
frieze,  the  mouldings,  metopes,  medallions,  and  other  of 
those  forms  which  pertain  to  Grecian  architecture,  are 
struck  out,  with  a  master,  but  giant  hand,  in  munificent 
relief,  arid  with  a  perfection  truly  admirable.  A  portion 
of  the  structure  had  fallen,  and  lay  at  the  base  in  heaps 
of  ruins.  But  even  the  imperfections  appear  as  if  due  to 
the  gradual  process  of  ddcay.     It  requires  little  stretch 

*  Discourse  before  Detroit  Historical  Society. 


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^  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

of  the  imagination  to  conceive  the  whole  fabric  to  be 
an  enormous  edifice,  the  grandest  of  man's  construc- 
tion, of  which  the  main  body  has  by  some  convulsion 
been  sunk  and  engulfed  in  the  waters.  We  thought  of 
these  monuments  of  ancient  art  which  the  volcanic  rain 
of  Vesuvius  had  overwhelmed ;  but  such  a  temple  as 
this  would  have  enclosed  half  of  Pompeii ! 

The  mind  naturally  inquires.  Are  the  beautiful  forms 
of  ancient  architecture  the  result  of  long  and  laborious 
study,  or  was  some  marvel  like  this  exhibited  in  that 
distant  era,  from  which  cunning  sculptors  borrowed 
those  designs  that  immortalize  the  Parthenon  ?  And  if 
— as  the  learned  have  supposed — the  marble  structures 
of  that  age  received  the  addition  of  a  coat  of  glowing 
colors, — of  which  time  has  left  some  traces, — we  here 
view  the  prototype,  not  only  of  the  graceful  forms  upon 
which  they  labored  so  successfully,  but  of  the  overlay  of 
colorings,  in  the  glory  of  their  original  freshness ! 

These  are  but  single  features  in  the  scenic  display. 
The  line  of  cliffs  is  not  uniformly  regular,  but  curves 
gradually  to  the  south-west,  and  presents  many  angles 
and  projecting  points.  Passing  on  to  harder  portions  of 
the  rock,  the  yoyageur  may  encounter  at  the  next  angle 
a  vertical  and  unbroken  wall,  rearing  its  solid  front  from 
the  bed  of  the  lake  to  the  height  of  from  200  to  300 
feet  above  the  surface.  The  sharpness  of  the  angular 
projection  equals  that  created  by  the  square  and  plum- 
met ;  while  the  immense  thickness  of  the  strata  causes 
the  wall  to  appear  as  laid  in  immense  blocks,  a  hundred 
feet  in  length.  No  such  blocks  were  built  into  their 
mausolea  by  the  proudest  qf  the  Pharaohs. 

New  changes  present  themselves  as  the  traveller  pro- 
ceeds.    Suddenly  he  is  before  the  walls  of  an  impregnable 


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46  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

fortress,  complete  with  glacis,  bastion,  and  towers.  The 
western  cape  of  Miner*s  River  exhibits  a  curious  display 
of  this  kind.  It  resembles  the  dilapidated  tower  of  some 
time-worn  gothic  castle.  The  base  rests  upon  a  series  of 
short  columns,  connected  by  groined  arches,  through 
many  of  which  a  boat  may  pass  with  ease.  There  are 
eight  or  ten  of  these  pillars ;  several  have  large  en- 
trances above,  and  the  tower  rears  its  broken  battle- 
ments to  the  height  of  120  feet. 

Among  the  characteristic  features,  none  is  more  extra- 
ordinary than  one  to  which  the  French  voyageurs  have 
appropriately  given  the  name  of  "  La  Chapelle.**  This 
rock  was  originally  part  of  the  solid  clifif,  of  which  the 
greater  portion  has  been  swept  away,  causing  a  valley 
about  half  a  mile  in  breadth,  through  which  a  considera- 
ble stream  enters  the  lake,  falling  over  the  rocks  in  a 
sheet  of  foam.  Close  by,  reared  upon  the  rocky  plat- 
form, about  twenty  feet  above  the  lake,  and  conspicuous 
from  its  isolation,  stands  the  chapel.  It  consists  of  a 
tabular  mass  of  sandstone,  raised  upon  five  columns, 
whose  capitals  swell  into  a  uniform  arch  and  support  the 
ceiling  or  dome  of  the  edifice.  Its  whole  height  is  56 
feet.  The  pillars  are  somewhat  irregular  in  form  and 
position  ;  in-cluding  their  bases,  they  are  about  25  feet 
in  height,  and  from  4  to  6  feet  diameter  in  the  swell. 
Regular  proportions  are  not  altogether  preserved,  for  in 
most  of  them  the  central  portion  has  the  smallest  diam- 
eter, like  an  hour-glass.  Two  uphold  the  front,  and 
from  these  the  arch  springs  to  the  height  of  30  feet,  al- 
lowing to  the  roof  a  thickness  of  five  or  six  feet.  The 
span  of  this  arch  is  32  feet,  as  viewed  from  the  water,  in 
which  direction  the  spectator  looks  completely  through 
the  temple  into  the  woodland  beyond.     The  strength 

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48  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

of  the  roof  thus  upheld  must  be  considerable,  since  it  is 
clothed  with  timber,  and  from  the  very  centre  shoots, 
spire-like,  a  lofty  pine.  The  cliff  on  which  the  edifice 
stands  forms  a  proportionate  pedestal,  ascending  from 
the  water  in  steps,  which  may  be  easily  mounted. 

This  solemn  natural  temple  might  contain  a  congrega- 
tion of  several  hundred  persons.  Nor  are  the  usual  ac- 
commodations for  the  preacher  wanting.  A  column, 
the  upper  half  of  which  has  been  broken,  projects  from 
a  recess  in  the  walls,  and  is  worn  into  a  curve  behind, 
like  the  half  of  a  letter  S,  creating  a  stand  which  would 
serve  the  purpose  as  admirably  as  it  strikingly  resembles 
the  old-fashioned  pulpit,  the  base  of  the  column  afford- 
ing convenient  steps. 

Upon  the  cliff,  just  without,  a  column  stands  detached, 
and  worn  into  the  form  of  an  urn,  no  bad  representation 
of  the  baptismal  font. 

At  what  epoch  of  the  world,  or  for  what  class  of  wor- 
shippers, this  almost  perfect  temple  was  created,  we 
might  ask  in  vain  of  geologist  or  theologian.  Certainly 
it  is  well  designed  to  raise  in  the  beholders  thoughts  of 
adoration  for  its  all-skilful  Architect,  while  they  assign 
to  it  a  chief  place  among  the  wonders  of  his  workman- 

An  urn-shaped  mass,  similar  to  the  one  here  observed, 
of  great  regularity  and  beauty  of  form,  and  not  less  than 
50  feet  in  height,  may  be  seen  at  another  point  of  the 
coast.  Several  rills  of  water  leap  from  the  very  top  of 
these  precipitous  cliffs,  and  add  much  to  the  charm  of 
the  view.  Indeed,  taken  in  connection  with  the  wide- 
sweeping  lake,  the  distant  mountain  ranges,  and  the 
woodland,  crowning  the  cliff,  the  scene  presented  is  of 
the  most  picturesque  and  wildest  character. 


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"  Where'er  we  gaze,  around,  above,  below, 
What  rainbow  tints,  what  magic  charms  are  found ! 
Rock,  river,  forest,  mountain,  all  abound, 
And  bluest  skies  that  harmonize  the  whole ; 
Beneath,  the  distant  torrent's  rushing  sound 
Tells  where  the  volumed  cataract  doth  roll, 
Between  those  hanging  rocks,  that  shock  yet  please  the  soul." 

Against  these  huge  ramparts  in  the  hour  of  the  storm 
the  billows  of  this  impetuous  lake  dash  with  terrific  fury, 
rumbling  beneath  the  open  arches,  until,  from  the  hollow 
caverns  within,  the  sounds  return  like  distant  echoes,  and 
at  times  their  spray  is  thrown  to  the  very  summits  of  the 
cliff.  Woe  betide  the  bark  that  is  overtaken  by  the  tem- 
pest before  these  hopeless  barriers ! 

But  when  the  winds  are  down,  lulling  the  lake  to  gent- 
lest murmurs,  the  cautious  boatman  plies  along  the  lone 
rampart,  and  with  beating  heart  ventures  to  explore  its 
awe-inspiring  recesses,  those 

"  Worn  and  wild  receptacles, 
Worked  by  the  storms,  yet  work'd  as  it  were  planned. 
In  hollow  halls,  with  sparry  roof  and  cells." 

From  this  sketch  some  correct  idea  may  perhaps  be 
gathered  of  a  few  of  those  strange  forms  which  Nature, 
in  her  sportive  hours,  has  here  carved  out  of  the  solid 
fabric  of  the  globe,  as  if  in  mockery  of  the  efforts  of 
man,  gigantic  monuments  of  that  immeasurable  Power 
who  formed  the  wonders  of  the  universe. 

Thirty  miles  west  from  the  Pictured  Rocks,  at  Choco- 
late and  Carp  rivers,  we  first  met,  in  their  approach  to 
the  shore,  the  azoic  or  primary  rocks,  which  from  here 
onward  constitute  so  interesting  and  important  a  feature 
in  the  geology  of  the  country.     Of   their  scientific  or 


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their  economical  character  it  is  not  my  purpose  to  speak, 
further  than  to  say  that  to  them  belong  the  iron  beds, 
which  are  such  a  mine  of  wealth  to  our  State.  Here,  a 
few  years  after  our  visit,  sprang  into  being  the  busy  and 
thriving  city  of  Marquette.  But  at  the  time  of  which  I 
speak,  all  was  a  solitude. 

From  hence  to  Keweenaw  Bay  ranges  of  granite  knobs 
rise  into  considerable  hills,  and  around  them  lie  a  series 
of  quartzites,  slates,  and  metamorphosed  sandstones. 
The  granites  are  pierced  by  dykes  of  trap,  which  in 
some  cases  form  straight,  narrow,  and  often  lofty  walls,  in 
others  have  overflowed  in  irregular  masses.  Here  Pluto, 
not  Neptune,  has  been  the  controlling  spirit,  and  has  left 
the  witness  of  his  rule  upon  the  face  of  the  country. 
Ascending  the  knobs  of  granite  and  quartz,  the  change 
is  most  striking.  To  the  east  the  eye  embraces  a.  tract 
lying  in  immense  broad  steppes  of  the  sandstone,  extend- 
ing beyond  the  Pictured  Rocks;  while  to  the  west  are 
seen  only  rolling  hills  and  knobs,  terminating  in  the 
Huron  Mountains. 

I  can  add  nothing  to  what  is  so  well  known  of  the 
mineral  riches  of  this  part  of  the  country.  But  there  is 
in  its  building-stones  a  wealth  that  is  hardly  yet  begun  to 
be  realized.  No  more  beautiful  and  serviceable  material 
than  the  easily-worked  and  variously-tinted  sandstones  is 
found  in  the  West ;  and  her  granites,  already  broken  by 
natural  forces  into  convenient  blocks,  and  as  yet  untried, 
will  command  a  market  in  the  time  coming,  when  the 
solid  and  durable  shall  be  regarded  as  chief  requisites  to 
good  architecture. 

Following"  our  westerly  direction  to  Point  Keweenaw, 
we  find  the  dominion  of  Pluto  established  on  a  most 
magnificent  scale.     Not  only  is  his  energy  displayed  in 


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52  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

the  stern  and  rock-bound  coast,  but  in  the  lofty  ranges 
of  trap,  which  rise  into  rugged  hills  of  from  400  to  900 
feet  above  the  lake.  Within  these  are  secreted,  but 
scarcely  concealed,  those  wonderful  veins  of  native  cop- 
per, here  quarried  rather  than  mined,  in  masses  such  as 
the  world  has  nowhere  else  produced. 

But  of  all  this  wealth  nothing  was  then  known,  except 
that  traces  of  copper  were  visible  at  a  few  places  along 
the  coast,  and  that  a  large  mass  of  the  native  metal  lay 
in  the  bed  of  Ontonagon  River,  long  revered  by  the  In- 
dians as  a  Manitou,  and  mentioned  in  the  relations  of  the 
early  French  historians. 

I  will  but  add,  as  the  result  of  this  season's  explora- 
tions, that  the  report  of  the  State  geologist,  published 
the  ensuing  winter,  unravelled  the  whole  subject  of  the 
mode  of  occurrence  of  the  copper  and  its  associated  min- 
erals, in  the  most  complete  and  scientific  manner.  It 
first  made  known  the  immense  value  which  Michigan 
possessed  in  its  hitherto  despised  Upper  Peninsula ;  and 
its  immediate  effect  was  to  arouse  an  interest  in  this  then 
wild  and  uninhabited  Indian  territory,  which  has  led  to 
the  opening  up  of  its  mines,  and  its  present  teeming 

On  the  third  of  July  we  encamped  at  Copper  Harbor, 
and  spent  several  days  in  exploration  of  the  surrounding 
country,  and  in  blasting  for  ores.  Several  blasts  were 
got  ready  for  the  great  national  jubilee,  which  we  com- 
memorated in  the  noisy  manner  usual  with  Americans, 
by  a  grand  discharge  from  the  rocks.  We  succeeded  in 
producing  a  tremendous  report,  and  the  echo,  resounding 
from  the  placid  water  as  from  a  sounding-board,  pealed 
forth  in  corresponding  reverberations  for  several  minutes. 
Later  in  the  day  we  retired  to  our  camp  and  partook  of 


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an  equally  grand  dinner.  It  consisted  of  pigeons,  fried 
and  stewed,  corn  and  bean  soup,  short-cake  and  hard- 
tack, pork,  and — last  but  not  least — a  can  of  fine  oysters, 
which  had  been  brought  along  for  the  occasion.  Truly  a 
sumptuous  repast  for  a  party  of  wilderness  vagrants,  even 
on  a  Fourth  of  July  anniversary ! 

But  time  warns  me  to  hasten  my  journey.  I  will 
therefore  proceed  at  once  to  the  Ontonagon,  where  an 
adventure  befel,  which  it  becomes  a  true  knight-errant  to 
relate.  It  was  our  purpose  to  pass  up  this  river  to  the 
large  mass  of  copper  already  alluded  to.  As  we  landed 
at  the  mouth  there  were  noticed,  on  the  opposite  side  of 
the  river,  several  Indian  lodges.  As  soon  as  we  had 
dined,  a  few  of  the  occupants  crossed  over  in  canoes, 
shook  hands  with  us,  giving  the  usual  greeting  of  "  Bo 
jou,**  and  received  a  small  gift  of  tobacco  and  bread. 
Accompanying  were  half  a  dozen  young  boys,  some  of 
whom  had  remarkably  fine  features.  We  could  not  but 
notice,  as  an  unusual  circumstance,  that  several  of  the 
men  were  painted  black.  One  athletic  fellow  in  particu- 
lar, in  this  grimy  coloring,  and  naked  except  the  clout, 
made  a  very  grotesqlie  though  savage  appearance.  The 
devil  himself,  however,  is  said  not  to  be  so  black  as  he  is 
painted,  and  this  fellow  seemed  rather  to  act  the  buffoon 
than  the  noble  warrior. 

The  party  proved  to  belong  to  the  Buffaloes,  whose 
chief  we  had  met  at  River  Tequamenon,  near  the  eastern 
end  of  the  lake,  and  were  under  the  command  of  the  son 
of  that  chief.  The  latter  was  a  resolute-looking  fellow, 
of  about  26  or  30  years  of  age.  His  face  was  painted  red, 
and  he  wore  a  medal  bearing  the  likeness  of  John  Quincy 
Adams.       We  paid  little  attention  to  the   Indians,  al- 


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54  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

though  aware  that  on  several  occasions  exploring  parties  \ 

had  been  stopped  at  the  mouth  of  this  river  and  turned 
back.  \ 

We  had  made  but  two  or  three  miles  progress  up  the  | 

stream  when  the  rapid  stroke  of  paddles  was  heard,  and 
a  canoe,  manned  with  Indians,  shot  quickly  around  a 
bend  below  and  came  into  sight.  The  savages  were 
seated,  as  their  custom  is,  in  the  bottom  of  their  bark, 
so  that  only  heads  and  shoulders  were  visible.  As  each 
applied  his  whole  strength  the  canoe  skimmed  over  the 
surface  like  a  young  duck,  while  the  dashing  of  so  many 
paddles  caused  her  to  seem  propelled  by  a  water-wheel. 

Our  leader's  boat,  which  was  ahead,  immediately  lay 
to  and  raised  her  American  flag.  "  If  they  want  to  fight,'' 
said  the  Doctor,  "we'll  give  them  a  chance."  Our  tw^o 
boats  moved  into  line,  and  the  doctor's  assistants  armed 
themselves,  one  with  a  revolver,  the  other  with  a  rusty 
shot-gun,  our  entire  military  resource.  The  canoe  was 
soon  alongside,  and  the  heads  and  shoulders  proved  to 
belong  to  the  bodies  of  eight  stout  natives,  headed  by 
the  young  chief.  Dr.  Houghton  held  out  his  hand  to  be 
shaken  as  before.  He  then  asked,  through  an  interpreter, 
if  they  recollected  the  man  who  had  put  something  into 
their  arms  when  they  were  sick,  a  number  of  years  ago. 
This  something  was  vaccine  for  the  small-pox.  Doctor  H. 
having  accompanied  the  Schoolcraft  expedition,  in  the 
capacity  of  physician  and  botanist.  To  this  the  chief, 
who  doubtless  well  knew,  made  no  reply,  but  demanded 
our  errand  up  the  river,  and  said  that  he  and  his  men  had 
been  stationed  at  the  mouth  by  his  father,  the  head  of 
the  tribe,  with  orders  to  allow  no  boat  to  pass  up  without 
that  chief's  permission.  He  added  further,  that  we  had 
not  paid  him,  the  son,  the  respect  that  was  his  due,  by 


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calling  at  his  lodge  and  leaving  a  present.  Our  leader 
replied  that  he  was  sent  hithef  by  their  great  Father, 
whose  instructions  he  should  obey ;  that  he  should  as- 
cend the  river  as  far  as  suited  him,  and  that  he  did  not 
recognize  in  them  any  authority  to  stop  him. 

Chief,  You  must  wait  at  the  mouth  until  the  Buffalo 
comes  up.  Else  I  and  my  band  shall  go  with  you,  and 
see  that  you  take  nothing. 

Doctor,  I  have  been  here  before,  and  shall  go  now,  as 
I  am  ordered  by  your  great  Father.  I  know  the  country 
and  do  not  need  a  guide. 

Chief,    This  country  belongs  to  us. 

Doctor.  I  know  that  the  country  is  Indian  territory, 
but  the  treaty  of  1826  allows  citizens  of  the  United 
States  to  visit  it.  Neither  shall  I  ask  consent  of  the 
chief  to  take  what  I  please.  But,  being  acquainted  with 
the  Buffalo,  I  have  no  objection  to  showing  him  what  I 
bring  away. 

At  this  stage  of  the  altercation  another  canoe  came  in 
sight,  which  proved  to  contain  the  boys.  By  this  time 
two  of  the  Indians  had  made  free  to  step  into  our  small 
boat,  where  they  seated  themselves  with  great  appear- 
ance of  familiarity.  The  affair  would  have  had  enough 
of  the  ludicrous  mingled  with  its  serious  aspect  to  war- 
rant us  in  making  light  of  it,  and  holding  no  further  par- 
ley, but  for  two  considerations,  which  we  could  not  af- 
ford to  overlook.  Owing  to  the  numerous  rapids,  the 
barge,  Avhich  contained  our  whole  stock,  could  be  got  up 
only  ten  miles,  while  we  had  to  proceed  to  the  forks, 
twenty  miles  further,  in  our  smaller  boat,  and  thence  five 
miles  by  foot.  And  in  case  of  a  trial  of  strength  with 
the  Indians,  no  dependence  could  be  placed  upon  our 


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56  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

hired  voyageurs,  most  of  whom  were  allied  to  the  oppo- 
site party,  both  in  blood  and  training. 

Pointing  to  a  bend  in  the  river,  our  detainers  now  said, 
**  We  are  determined  that  you  shall  not  go  beyond  that 
point  to-night.**  This  audacious  order  determined  us  to 
at  once  break  off  all  conference,  so  asserting  our  inten- 
tion to  be  no  longer  hindered  or  delayed,  we  prepared  for 
immediate  departure.  After  some  consultation  among 
themselves,  the  chief  answered,  that  if  we  would  then 
and  there  make  them  a  present  of  a  keg  of  pork  and  a 
barrel  of  flour  we  would  be  allowed  to  proceed,  but 
should  be  expected  to  bestow  a  further  present  to  the 
head  chief  on  our  return. 

To  this  bold  demand,  which  plainly  appeared  to  be  a 
levy  of  blackmail,  an  act  of  piracy.  Dr.  Houghton  re- 
plied that  he  would  give  \}[it,\Xi  as  a  present  such  things 
as  they  stood  in  immediate  need  of,  but  nothing  more. 
Nor  should  he  recognize  the  shadow  of  a  right  to  de- 
mand even  that.  Accordingly,  a  bag  filled  with  flour, 
and  some  pork  and  tobacco  were  offered,  and  the  leader 
agreed  to  accept  his  present  in  powder,  lead,  and  provis- 
ions at  La  Pointe,  whither  we  were  bound. 

The  parley  being  at  an  end,  we  drew  off  and  pushed  up 
the  stream.  The  hostiles  remained  awhile  in  consulta- 
tion, and  then*  withdrew  in  the  opposite  direction.  A 
few  miles  above  we  encamped  for  the  night. 

It  was  a  necessity,  as  I  have  stated,  to  leave  our  barge 
behind  with  all  our  stores,  while  the  exploring  party  were 
absent  for  two  days  and  a  night.  Of  course  this  dilemma 
was  known  to  the  enemy.  Holding  a  council  of  war  the 
next  morning,  it  was  resolved  to  leave  with  our  goods 
four  of  the  men,  together  with  the  gun.  They  received 
most  positive  orders  to  fire  upon  the  first  Indian  who 


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58  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

touched  the  baggage,  in  case  any  of  them  should  return, 
as  we  had  reason  to  expect.  And  our  captain  added 
with  solemn  emphasis,  that  if  any  man  failed  in  fidelity, 
his  own  life  should  pay  the  forfeit.  Having  thus  played 
upon  their  fears,  we  pursued  our  laborious  journey, 
reached  the  Copper  Rock  at  nightfall,  and,  tired  with  the 
day's  toils,  laid  down  beneath  the  cover  of  the  forest  and 
slept  soundly. 

The  next  morning  we  proceeded  to  the  difficult  task 
of  detaching  portions  of  the  metallic  mass,  which  was 
successfully  accomplished,  and  we  brought  away  about 
twenty-five  pounds  of  it.  I  will  here  add,  that  this  cop- 
per boulder  was,  a  few  years  afterwards,  removed  through 
the  agency  of  Mr.  Eldred,  of  Detroit,  and  taken  to  Wash- 
ington, where  it  enriches  the  museum  of  the  Smithsonian 
Institution.  It  is  now  no  novelty  to  see  very  much 
larger  masses  brought  down  and  landed  on  the  dock  at 
our  smelting  works. 

But  to  conclude  the  narrative  :  on  reaching  camp,  on 
our  return,  we  learned  that  the  chief,  with  several  of  his 
band,  had  been  there,  but  had  touched  nothing,  and  ac- 
cording to  his  own  account,  had  taken  the  trail  for  Lake 
Flambeau,  in  order  to  join  a  war-party,  then  organizing, 
of  the  Chippewas  against  the  Sioux.  Notwithstanding 
this  story  we  fully  expected  to  meet  these  fellows  again 
at  the  mouth,  and  to  whip  them  there  if  we  could.  But 
when  we  reached  the  place  all  was  silent,  and  the  lodges 

I  will  only  add  to  this  long  story,  that  bur  captain's 
order  was  never  presented.  We  learned  further,  on  reach- 
ing La  Pointe,  that  the  party  which  waylaid  us  had  known 
of  our  journey  from  the  first ;  that  they  had  "  smoked 
over  it,"  had  dogged  us  the  whole  way  up  the  lake,  sub- 

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sisting  themselves  by  fishing,  and  that  when  we  met  they 
were  nearly  starved. 

I  will  take  my  hearers  but  one  stage  further  before 
closing  this  excursive  ramble. 

A  few  days  brought  us  to  the  islands  called  by  Carver  1/ 
"  The  Apostles.'*  On  one  of  the  largest  of  these,  Mad- 
eline, at  La  Pointe,  is  located  a  general  depot  of  the 
American  Fur  Company,  for  atl  the  western  parts  of  the 
lake,  and  the  chain  of  lakes  and  rivers  leading  into  it. 
It  had  become,  in  consequence,  an  asylum  for  all  the  old 
traders  of  that  part  of  the  country,  and  the  temporary 
abode  of  great  numbers  of  Indians.  After  pitching  our 
tents  on  the  beach,  in  front  of  the  fort,  amid  a  crowd  of 
Indians  and  equally  idle  half-breeds,  we  were  welcomed 
by  the  company's  factor.  Dr.  Borup,  Mr.  Oakes,  the 
factor  from  Fond-du-lac,  and  Mr.  Bushnell,  the  Indian 
agent,  and  invited  to  all  the  hospitalities  of  the  place. 

During  our  whole  voyage  from  the  Sault  we  had  not 
seen  the  face  of  a  white  man,  except  at  the  mission  of 
L' Anse,  and  a  casual  fishing  party.  But  here,  at  the  end 
of  our  wandering,  far  from  what  we  had  been  accustomed 
to  consider  the  Hmits  of  civilization,  we  were  greeted,  in 
the  families  of  these  gentlemen,  not  only  by  features  to 
which  we  had  been  so  long  strangers,  but  by  all  the  at- 
tendant civilized  refinements.  The  dress  and  manners  of 
the  East,  the  free  converse  with  friendly  voices  of  our 
own  and  the  gentler  sex,  the  music  of  a  piano,  the  sound  . 
of  the  church-going  bell  and  Christian  services,  seemed  to 
us  rather  like  a  return  to  our  homes  than  the  extreme  of 
a  two-months'  journey  in  the  wilderness. 

It  may  interest  my  hearers  to  know  in  more  detail 


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6o  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

what  composed  a  post  so  remote,  and  which  was  to  me 
so  much  a  surprise. 

La  Pointe  at  that  period  was  one  of  those  peculiar 
growths  known  only  to  an  era  which  has  long  passed 
away,  or  been  banished  to  regions  still  more  remote. 
What  is  called  the  company's  "  fort  '*  consisted  of  two 
large  stores  painted  red,  a  long  storehouse  for  fish,  at  the 
wharf,  and  a  row  of  neat  frame  buildings  painted  white. 
The  latter  were  occupied 'by  the  half  dozen  families  in 
the  company's  employ.  These  dwellings,  with  the  two 
stores,  formed  opposite  sides  of  a  broad  street,  in  the 
centre  square  of  which  was  planted  a  large  flag-pole. 
Upon  this  street  also  clustered  sundry  smaller  and  un- 
painted  log  tenements  of  the  French  and  half-breeds. 
Half  a  mile  from  the  fort  were  the  Protestant  and  Cath- 
olic missions.  The  former  boasted  a  good  frame  man- 
sion of  two  stories,  attached  to  which  was  a  school,  num- 
bering thirty  scholars.  The  Catholic  mission  had  a  large 
number  of  followers,  including  the  French  and  Indians. 
In  all,  the  settlement  contained  about  fifty  permanent 
tenements.  Beside  these  were  perhaps  an  equal  number 
of  Indian  lodges,  irregularly  disposed  in  vacant  spaces, 
and  adding  to  the  size  and  picturesque  character  of  the 
village.  Several  hundred  Indians  usually  found  constant 
employ  in  the  fisheries  at*  this  place. 

This  was  the  oldest,  as  well  as  most  remote,  of  the 
Jesuit  missions  in  the  North-west,  having  been  established 
by  Father  Allouez,  in  1665.  It  was  then  a  gathering 
place  of  many  Indian  nations,  and  was  hundreds  of  miles 
from  the  nearest  French  settlement. 

It  has  additional  interest  from  the  fact  that  it  witnessed 
the  youthful  and  zealous  labors  of  Pere  Marquette,  who 
came,  in  1669,  to  take  the  place  of  Father  Allouez,  among 


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J.   M.   DONALDSON,   SC. 



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62  LAKE  SUPERIOR  IN  1840. 

the  Ottawas,  Hurons,  and  other  tribes  of  the  neighbor- 
hood. It  was  at  La  Pointe  that  Marquette  planned  that 
voyage  of  first  discovery,  exploration  and  missionary  en- 
terprise down  the  Mississippi  which  has  rendered  his 
name  illustrious. 

In  the  families  I  have  mentioned  might  be  detected 
an  intermixture  of  Indian  blood,  which  detracts  little 
even  from  the  fairness  of  the  daughters,  and  the  ladies 
as  well  as  the  gentlemen  are  intelligent  and  highly  edu- 
cated. Their  lives,  when  not  occupied  in  business,  are 
spent  in  reading  and  music ;  and  during  the  long,  cold 
winter,  frequent  rides  are  taken  on'  the  ice,  upon  which 
they  pass  from  island  to  island  in  sledges  drawn  by  dogs. 

I  could  not  but  picture  to  my  mind,  outside  of  this  in- 
telligent circle,  the  festivities  which  marked  this  distant 
post,  at  that  season,  in  the  more  palmy  days  of  the  fur 
trade ;  when  it  would  be  crowded  with  the  hangers-on  of 
such  an  establishment,  returned  from  their  sojourn  in  the 
trapping  grounds,  or  their  toilsome  voyages  to  and  from 
Montreal  and  Quebec,  bent  on  lavishing  away  their  sea- 
son's earnings  in  days  of  idleness  or  debauch,  and  in  "  long 
nights  of  revelry  and  ease.** 

Much  of  this  old-time  character  still  remained.  The 
motley  population,  the  unique  village,  the  fisheries  and 
furs,  the  Indian  dances  and  pow-wows,  the  mixture  of  civ- 
ilization and  barbarism,  the  isolation,  broken  only  by 
occasional  and  irregular  arrivals  from  the  world  below, — 
made  up  a  scene  for  which  we  were  little  prepared,  which 
will  not  be  easily  forgotten,  but  of  which  >I  can  give  only 
this  meagre  description. 


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TION IN  1837. 


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**  Primitive  liberty,  at  last  I  have  found  thee  !  I  pass  like  that  bird  which 
flies  before  me,  which  pursues  its  way  at  random,  and  is  embarrassed  only 
by  the  choice  of  shades.  While  the  inhabitants  of  the  rivers  accompany 
my  canoe,  those  of  the  air  sing  me  their  hymns,  the  beasts  of  the  earth 
salute  me,  and  the  forests  bow  their  tops  as  I  pass. 

"  "Who  can  describe  the  feelings  that  are  experienced  on  entering  these 
forests,  coeval  with  the  world,  and  which  alone  afford  an  idea  of  the  crea- 
tion, such  as  it  issued  from  the  hands  of  the  Almighty."— Chateaubriand, 
Travels  in  America^  I79i» 


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IN    1837.* 

A  RECENT  paper  read  before  this  society,  giving  an 
interesting  description  of  the  Saginaw  Valley  as 
seen  in  1850,  suggests  some  incidents  of  an  expedition 
into  the  same  valley,  in  which  the  writer  of  this  had  a 
share,  thirteen  years  before.  At  the  request  of  your 
president,  I  have  undertaken  to  jot  down  some  of  my 
reminiscences  of  that  journey.  These,  if  they  have  no 
other  interest,  may  serve  to  show  the  progress  of  enter- 
prise and  settlement  in  that  region,  and  bring  into  con- 
trast its  feeble  beginning  and  privations  of  the  past,  with 
its  present  abounding  prosperity. 

In  1837,  the  State  of  Michigan,  then  in  the  first  year 
of  its  young  but  vigorous  existence,  organised  a  State 
Geological  Survey ;  but  the  scanty  appropriation  sufficed 
only  to  enable  its  projector  to  accomplish,  during  that 
year,  a  limited  reconnoissance.  This  extended,  neverthe- 
less, to  some  degree,  into  the  almost  unexplored  portion 
of  the  lower  peninsula. 

Salt  springs  were  known  to  exist,  particularly  in  the 
vicinity  of  Grand  and  Saginaw  rivers,  and  the  few  facts 
known  of  the  rocks  which  constituted  most  of  the  coast 
lines,  and  made  occasional  outcrops  in  the  interior,  were 
sufficient  to  indicate  the  probability  of  the  existence  of 
coal  and  gypsum. 

♦Read  before  the  Detroit  Pioneer  Society,  Jan.,  1872. 



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66  A  GEOLOGICAL  EXPEDITION  IN  1837.     , 

It  was  required,  by  the  act  establishing  the  survey,  that 
an  examination  and  report  upon  the  salt  springs  should 
be  made  at  the  end  of  the  first  season. 

It  is  my  intention  to  relate  some  of  the  incidents  of  a 
trip — or  short  campaign,  if  I  may  so  term  it — made  in  the 
fall  of  1837,  for  the  purpose  of  making  an  examination  of 
these  springs,  and  such  other  geological  discoveries  as 
might  be  made,  in  the  country  traversed  by  those  great 
natural  highways,  the  streams  tributary  to  the  Saginaws. 

The  party  consisted  of  four  individuals :  Dr.  Houghton, 
the  State  geologist,  and  three  assistants, — Mr.  C.  C. 
Douglass,  the  writer,  and — a  dog. 

The  latter  was  no  inconsequential  member  of  the  corps, 
and  had,  like  the  rest,  his  appointed  duties  to  perform. 
Dask  was  his  name ;  indicative  also  of  his  nature. 

This  was  before  the  day  of  railroads,  although  the 
young  State  had  already  projected  its  magnificent  scheme 
of  internal  improvements,  and  for  a  considerable  part  of 
our  contemplated  route  there  were  no  highways  but  the 
streams.  Our  plan  was  to  reach,  by  private  conveyance, 
some  point  on  the  Shiawassee  River,  whence  we  could 
embark  in  a  canoe  and  descend  to  the  Saginaw. 

Loading  into  a  wagon  at  Detroit  our  few  traps,  which 
consisted  of  a  tent,  provisions,  an  axe  and  a  gun,  in  the 
afternoon  of  Sept.  13,  1837,  we  proceeded  as  far  as  Royal 
Oak,  where  we  encamped  by  the  roadside,  in  the  inde- 
pendent mode  common  to  immigrants  at  that  period. 
To  the  writer  the  situation  had  the  charm  which  youth 
always  finds  in  novelty. 

I  will  not  detain  you  with  incidents,  and  will  only 
mention  the  few  villages  through  which  we  passed. 

Prominent  among  these  was  Pontiac.  The  first  settler, 
Mr.  Williams,  came  to  this  place  in  18 17  or  18 18,  with  an 


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exploring  party,  among  whom  was  Governor  Cass.  This 
whole  region  was  then  supposed  to  be  an  interminable 
morass,  and  so  wild  and  dangerous  was  this  expedition 
thought  to  be,  that  the  party,  before  setting  forth,  took 
leave  of  their  friends  with  all  the  solemnity  befitting  so 
grave  an  occasion. 

At  the  time  of  my  visit,  Pontiac  was  a  pretty,  business- 
like place.  It  had  been  settled  13  years,  but  had  just  re- 
ceived incorporation  by  the  legislature.  It  has  alvuays 
retained  its  bustling  character,  while  growing  rapidly 
from  a  thriving  hamlet  into  a  beautiful  and  well  built 

The  surrounding  country  seemed  to  our  eyes  far  enough 
removed  from  the  gloomy  morass  which  wild  imagina- 
tion had  depicted  it,  20  years  before.  It  appeared  to  me 
the  most  beautiful  the  sun  ever  shone  upon.  It  was  of 
the  character  then  beginning  to  be  classed  as**  openings,** 
characterized  by  a  gravelly  soil  and  a  sparse  growth  of 
oaks  and  hickories.  I  speak  in  the  past  tense,  because, 
though  the  rural  beauty  of  the  country  is  still  unrivalled, 
little  remains  of  the  original  character  of  the  openings. 
This  is  a  result  partly  of  the  process  of  cultivation,  and 
partly  of  the  thick  growth  of  small  timber  that  has  cov- 
ered all  the  uncultivated  portions  since  the  annual  fires 
have  ceased,  which  kept  down  the  underbrush. 

Elevated  400  feet  above  Detroit  River,  broken  into  hills 
and  knobs,  which  rise  frequently  100  feet  and  more  above 
the  surrounding  surface,  with  intervening  vales  and  hol- 
lows, forming  basins  for  lakes  of  the  clearest  water ;  in 
the  midst  of  a  park  of  nature's  sole  forming,  inimitable  by 
the  hand  of  art,  this  lake  region  of  Michigan  deserves 
its  celebrity. 

But  at  the  period  I  allude  to,  no  straight-fenced  roads 


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shut  in  the  highway,  and  travellers  might  wind  at  will 
through  the  superb  natural  park,  trampling  down  only  the 
flowers  that  in  many  places  created  glowing  parterres ; 
catching  many  a  bright  reflection  from  the  limpid  lakes, 
and  sometimes  stealing  distant  sight  of  a  herd  of  deer, 
scarcely  more  wild  than  the  peaceful  landscape  over 
which  they  roamed.  Climbing  a  tree  on  one  of  the  most 
elevated  knobs,  I  had  a  view  over  probably  the  whole  of 
Oakland  County :  seven  lakes  lay  at  my  feet ;  on  the 
north  and  west  undulations,  like  heavy  swells  of  the  sea, 
and  on  the  east  a  level  plain,  stretching  to  the  horizon 
like  an  pcean^s  verge. 

Byron,  in  the  south-east  corner  of  Shiawassee  County, 
was  the  termination  of  our  wagon  journey.  The  name 
had  long  occupied  a  prominent  place  on  all  the  old  maps 
of  Michigan,— at  that  time  a  decade  was  antiquity, — and 
held  out  to  the  newcomer  the  promise  of  a  large  and 
thriving  village.  The  reality  was  disappointing.  It  pos- 
sessed— all  told — a  mill  and  two  houses. 

Fentonville,  though  of  more  recent  origin,  had  out- 
grown it,  and  boasted  a  tavern,  a  store,  and  several  frame 

At  Byron  we  exchanged  our  wagon  for  a  canoe,  and 
commenced  a  descent  of  Shiawassee  River. 

From  Byron  to  Owasso,  about  twenty  miles  direct  (but 
many  more  by  the  course  of  the  stream),  our  way  lay 
mostly  through  land  more  heavily  timbered,  but  varied 
with  openings  and  occasional  plains.  Through  this  part 
of  the  county  roads  had  been  opened,  and  settlements 
had  made  rapid  progress. 

We  were  now  to  make  our  way  by  the  aid  of  the  cur- 
rent, but  this  meant  not  all  plain-sailing  nor  luxurious  en- 
joyment.    The  river  was  interrupted  by  numerous  rapids. 


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of  difficult  if  not  dangerous  navigation,  and  over  these 
shallows  we  had  to  drag  the  canoe.  As  this  necessitated 
getting  into  the  water,  we  were  provided  with  water-tight 
boots,  that  turned  up  to  the  thighs. 

At  the  approach  of  night  a  favorable  landing  was  se- 
lected, and  a  new  division  of  labor  took  place.  While 
one  cleared  the  spot  and  pitched  the  tent,  another  cut 
wood  for  the  fire,  and  a  third  prepared  the  evening  meal. 
Your  humble  servant,  being  installed  into  the  ancient  and 
honorable  dignity  of  cook,  had  this  duty  to  perform. 
Any  one  who  has  sweetened  his  food  with  the  sauce  of 
hunger  knows  how  little  culinary  art  is  requisite  to  satisfy 
famishing  guests.  Indeed,  a  piece  of  fat  pork,  fried  upon 
a  stick  over  the  camp  fire,  after  hours  of  labor  in  the 
wilderness,  is  a  morsel  sweeter  than  any  which  the  pam- 
pered epicure  knows.  To  this  standard  dish  our  one  gun 
enabled  us  to  add  such  small  game  as  we  chose  to  take 
the  trouble  to  obtain. 

But  my  position  involved  also  a  duty  which  might  be 
supposed  of  less  easy  accomplishment ;  viz.,  the  cleaning 
of  the  dishes.  Fortunately,  I  was  permitted  to  make  free 
of  the  assistance  of  the  fourth  member  of  our  family. 
Dash,  being  properly  educated  to  this  service,  was  not  al- 
lowed his  own  dinner  until  he  had  thoroughly  and  im- 
partially scoured  our  tin  plates  and  sauce-pan  ;  in  which 
duty,  I  must  do  him  the  justice  to  say,  he  proved  a  skil- 
ful adept.  Indeed,  after  long  experience,  I  am  prepared 
to  recommend  a  dog*s  tongue  as  more  effectual  than 
any  dish-cloth,  with  all  the  aids  of  hot  water  and  soap. 
After  this  process,  a  simple  rinsing  in  the  clear  water  of 
the  river  constituted  all  the  additional  operation  that  the 
most  fastidious  could  demand. 

Several  years  had  passed  since  the  extinguishment  of 


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the  Indian  title  to  the  lands  of  the  Chippewas,  who  had 
claimed  this  part  of  the  peninsula.  But  many  and  exten- 
sive reservations  lined  the  Shiawassee  and  other  of  the 
tributaries  of  the  Saginaw,  and  the  natives  had  as  yet  felt 
too  little  of  that  fatal  spell  which  falls  upon  them  with 
the  very  beginning  of  the  white  settlements,  to  have 
abandoned  much  of  their  old  habits. 

As  we  followed  down  the  stream,  memorials  of  the 
present  and  recent  Indian  occupation  were  frequent. 
Sometimes  we  passed  huts,  constructed  of  poles,  and 
thatched  with  bark,  but  only  a  few  squaws  and  children 
were  visible.  At  one  place  on  the  bank  were  ten  graves, 
over  which  a  sort  of  tomb  had  been  erected,  built  of  logs. 
Trails  were  frequent,  and  on  one  of  these  we  came  upon 
a  tree  containing  an  Indian  symbolic  epistle.  There 
were  figures  of  men  and  horses,  but  we  were  unable  to 
decipher  the  meaning.  At  another  place  was  a  cache 
or  pit  for  hiding  provisions. 

Many  of  the  Indian  clearings  stretched  for  several  con- 
tinuous miles,  and  many  acres  bordering  the  river  were 
covered  with  the  luxuriant  maize, — the  chief  cultivated 
food  of  the  natives.  These  plantations  receive  the  name 
of  villages,  because  they  are  resorted  to  by  the  tribes 
at  the  periods  of  cultivation  and  harvest.  But,  in  fact, 
these  people  had  no  fixed  habitations,  but  wandered,  like 
the  Arabs — their  Eastern  cousins — from  place  to  place,  in 
patriarchal  bands,  finding  such  subsistence  as  the  woods 
and  waters  afforded,  and  pursuing  the  occupation  of 
trapping  and  barter  with  the  Indian  traders. 

At  this  time,  also,  they  were  much  scattered  by  the 
small-pox,  a  disease  recently  introduced  by  the  whites, 
and  which  had  proved  very  fatal  to  the  aboriginal  inhab- 
itants of  this  part  of  Michigan. 

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Indian  trading-houses  were  a  frequent  feature,  that 
served  to  connect  the  wildness  of  savage  life  with  the  in- 
coming civilization. 

.  Five  miles  above  Shiawassee  town  was  a  small  Indian 
village,  upon  what  was  known  as  Knaggs*  Reservation, 
and  at  a  short  distance  was  the  house  of  a  trader — Beau- 
bien.  Williams,  the  first  settler,  came  here  six  years  be- 
fore (183 1),  and  opened  a  trading-store,  as  an  agent  of 
that  extensive  enterprise — the  American  Fur  Company. 
A  frame  house  had  since  been  erected,  and  a  few  acres 
cleared, — the  small  beginning  of  one  of  those  invasions 
of  the  Saxon  upon  the  Savage  which,  in  an  incredibly 
short  period,  will  leave  the  latter  not  even  his  grave. 

Shiawassee  town,  at  this  time,  contained  a  dozen  log 
cabins,  and  as  many  frames  unfinished.  One  of  these 
was  of  quite  superior  construction,  and  indicative  of  the 
era  of  speculation  through  which  the  country  had  passed. 
It  was  three  stories  in  height,  and  designed  for  a  hotel. 
The  whole  village  was  under  mortgage,  and  was  adver- 
tised to  be  sold  at  public  vendue. 

Corunna,  the  county  seat,  we  found  to  consist  oione  log 
house,  situated  upon  the  bank  of  the  river,  and  occupied 
by  a  Mr.  Davis,  who,  a  year  before,  and  soon  after  the 
organization  of  the  county,  had  made  an  entry  here.  A 
steam  mill  was  in  process  of  erection.  About  twenty 
acres  of  land  had  been  cleared  and  planted ;  and  never 
did  crystal  stream  lave  a  more  fertile  soil. 

Three  miles  below  was  "  located  "  the  village  of  Owas- 
so,  already  a  thriving  settlement,  containing  a  dozen  log 
buildings,  one  frame  one,  and  a  saw-mill. 

With  the  exception  of  a  few  scattered  settlers  upon 
the  plains,  south  of  the  line  of  the  present  Detroit  and 
Milwaukee  Railway,  such  constituted  the  entire  white 
population  of  Shiawassee  County. 


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In  the  early  part  of  the  season,  during  the  progress  of 
the  geological  survey,  beds  of  bituminous  coal  had  been 
discovered  in  the  bank  of  Grand  River,  in  Ingham  and 
Eaton  counties,  and  the  rocks  met  with  through  the 
central  part  of  Shiawassee — belonging  to  the  "coal 
measures** — gave  hope  of  finding  an  outcrop.  Pros- 
pecting was  accordingly  commenced  by  us  at  Corunna, 
but,  with  the  slender  means  at  command,  did  not  prove 
successful.  Yet  sufficient  was  determined,  from  the 
character  and  dip  of  the  rocks,  and  other  indications,  to 
warrant  a  recommendation  to  the  settlers  to  continue 
the  investigation.  The  result  was  the  finding  of  coal  at 
Corunna,  soon  after ;  which,  though  not  of  very  remu- 
nerative thickness,  has  been  used  to  considerable  extent 
ever  since. 

I  will  add,  that  the  year's  explorations  determined  the 
boundaries  of  the  southerly  half  of  the  coal  basin  of 
Michigan.  Its  extent  to  the  north  yet  remains  a  prob- 
lem, to  be  solved  by  the  hardy  pioneers  and  explorers, 
who,  for  a  few  years  past,  have  been  at  work  so  de- 
terminedly to  bring  into  the  markets  of  the  world  that 
rich  and  important  portion  of  our  State. 

A  mile  below  Owasso  we  passed  the  last  of  the  white 
clearings,  and  made  our  night's  encampment  within  Big 
Rock  Reservation,  twelve  miles  below  that  village,  and 
twenty  miles  from  Saginaw. 

We  had  now  entered  upon  the  wild  and  primeval 
forest,  extending  in  a  solitude  unbroken  by  any  human 
sight  or  sound,  except  the  cabin  of  the  natives  and  the 
hut  of  the  Indian  trader,  to  the  shores  of  the  upper 
lakes.  For  the  first  time  I  was  startled  in  my  slumbers 
by  the  "wolfs  long  howl,*'  mingled  with  the  hooting 
of  an  owl 


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Hitherto  we  had  encountered  at  every  few  miles  the 
cabin  of  some  adventurous  pioneer,  for  whom  the  forests 
had  no  terrors,  but  now  we  were  alone  with  Nature.  We 
could  appreciate,  in  its  full  extent,  the  solitude,  the 
boundlessness,  the  sublimity  of  this  earliest  of  earth's 
offspring, — the  grand,  old,  untutored  forest. 

He  who  has  only  traversed  woodlands  where,  at  every 
few  miles,  he  meets  a  road  leading  to  civilized  belong- 
ings, knows  little  of  the  sense  of  awe  inspired  by  a  forest 
solitude  that  has  never  echoed  to  the  woodman's  axe, 
and  where  every  footstep  conducts  only  into  regions 
more  mysterious  and  unknown. 

The  woods  of  this  part  of  Michigan  comprised  a 
very  mingled  growth.  Oaks,  not  gnarled  and  spreading, 
as  in  more  open  lands,  but  at  once  massive  and  tall,  and 
centuries  old ;  the  elm,  that  most  graceful  and  majestic  of 
trees  of  any  land  ;  the  tulip  or  whitewood,  magnificent  in 
size  and  height  above  even  the  Titans  of  the  forest ;  the 
broad  and  green-leaved  linden ;  the  clean-bodied  beech ; 
the  saccharine  maples,  50  superb  in  their  autumnal  dresses, 
— dyed  like  Joseph's  coat  of  many  colors ;  the  giant  syc- 
amore, ghost-like,  with  its  white,  naked  limbs; — these 
are  the  common  habitants  of  the  forest ;  with  other 
kinds,  each  possessing  its  peculiar  grace,  and  a  use  and 
beauty  almost  unknown  in  other  lands. 

We  had  reached,  too,  the  latitude  of  the  evergreens, 
which  from  hence  northward,  to  the  farthest  limits, 
become  a  distinguishing  feature  of  the  Michigan  forests, 
imparting  to  them  a  more  wonderful  variety  and 
majesty.  Many  a  towering  pine,  1 50  feet  in  height,  now 
began  to  lift  its  head  above  its  fellow  inhabiters,  green 
through  youth  and  age,  through  verdure  and  frost.  In 
many  places  the    desert    gloom   was  deepened  by  the 


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dense  and  sombre  shade  of  hemlocks,  which  bent  their 
graceful  spray  to  the  earth,  and  almost  shut  out  the  light 
of  day 

We  took  the  measure  of  a  white  oak  that  stood  at 
the  border  of  the  timbered  land  and  the  openings,  which 
I  here  note  as  worthy  of  record.  It  was  thirty-five  feet 
in  circumference, — nearly  twelve  feet  diameter.  A  very 
respectable  tree  to  be  found  out  of  California. 

No  kind  of  travel  can  be  imagined  more  romantically 
charming  than  that  of  floating  down  the  current  of  one 
of  these  large  and  rapid  streams  that  water  this  portion 
of  Michigan,  piercing  the  heart  of  the  trackless  wilder- 
ness. The  trees  along  the  banks,  instead  of  forming  up- 
right walls,  exhibiting  the  naked  trunks  of  the  tall  wood- 
land monarchs,  throw  out  thick  branches  to  the  sunHght, 
which  bend  gracefully  to  the  water,  as  if  to  form  a  screen 
to  the  forest  depths.  Wild  fowl  are  easily  approached 
at  almost  every  bend,  affording  an  ample  supply  of  fresh 
food  without  the  fatigue  of  hunting,  and  at  night  the 
camp  is  made  beneath  the  leafy  arches,  and  lulled  by 
the  murmur  of  the  stream  or  the  roar  of  the  wind  in 
the  pine  tops. 

Descending  now  a  wider  stream,  with  a  smooth  and 
gentle  current,  we  passed,  successively,  the  mouths  of 
these  long  feeders  to  the  greater  stream, — the  Flint,  the 
Cass  and  the  Tittabawassee, — and  on  the  23d  September 
were  opposite  Saginaw  City. 

The  last  few  miles  had  presented  to  our  view  the  first 
irreclaimable  marsh  we  had  seen,  and  here  there  was 
plenty  of  it.  The  "  City  **  occupied  -what  seemed  to  be 
the  only  considerable  elevation  for  many  miles,  being 
about  thirty  feet  above  the  river. 

The  paper  read  to  you  by  Mr.  Jennison  gave  so  full 


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and  minute  a  history  of  the  settlement  of  the  Saginaw 
Valley  that  I  avoid  repetition.  I  will  only  refresh  your 
recollection,  by  stating  that  the  general  Government 
erected  a  fort  here  in  1820,  and  at  the  same  time  was 
established  a  centre  of  Indian  trade,  by  the  American- 
Fur  Company.  The  country  had  been  visited  by  General 
Cass  the  year  previous,  and  a  treaty  effected  with  the 
native  chiefs,  by  which  the  lands  of  the  Chippewas  were 
ceded  to  the  United  States. 

The  oldest  settlement  for  farming  purposes  was  made 
about  1829,  and  the  present  site  of  Saginaw  City  laid 
out  in  1835.  This  was  just  before  the  height  of  that  mad 
fever  of  speculation  into  which  so  many  plunged  wildly, 
and  which  built  in  the  wilderness  many  prospective  cities, 
most  of  them  existing  only  in  the  privileged  future  or  on 
paper  plots.  Saginaw  was  one  of  the  few  that  had  good 
foundation  for  its  celebrity ;  though  as  yet  there  had  been 
little  realization  of  its  dreams  of  future  greatness. 

My  notes  record  that  the  city  comprised  nearly  fifty 
frame  houses,  four  stores — one  a  handsome  dry  gdods 
and  grocery  store,  on  a  large  scale — two  warehouses, 
and  another  in  progress,  a  small  church,  two  steam  saw- 
mills, and,  in  process  of  erection,  a  large  edifice,  to  be 
called  the  "  Webster  House  '* ;  this  already  made  a  sightly 
appearance,  being  60  by  80  feet.  All  were  of  wood. 
The  stockades  of  the  fort  still  remained  ;  they  were  some 
ten  feet  in  height,  and  surrounded  about  an  acre.  I 
believe  that  the  abandonment  of  this  fortress  was  occa- 
sioned by  sickness  among  the  troops^  in  1824,  three- 
fourths  of  the  garrison  being  ill  at  once  of  the  fevers  of 
the  country. 

I  can  add  but  few  to  the  list  of  names  illustrious  in 
the  Saginaw  annals,  already  given  you,  but  I  met  there, 


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»j(i  A  GEOLOGICAL  EXPEDI7V0N  IN  1837. 

and  I  well  remember,  the  Littles — Norman  and  William 
P.  ;  Hiram  Miller  and  James  Fraser;  Judge  Riggs, 
Mr.  Watson  and  Mr.  Lyon ; — men  to  whose  energy  and 
practical  wisdom  the  valley  owes  so  large  a  share  of 
its  prosperity. 

It  has  been  stated  that  the  mill  known  as  Emerson*s 
was  erected  in  1834.  I  have  no  recollection  of  any  mill 
on  the  east  side  at  the  date  I  record,  and  the  distin- 
guished individual  whose  name  it  bearS  was,  at  that  time, 
still  delighting  the  happy  citizens  of  Detroit  by  his  curt 
and  vehement  eloquence.  If  three  mills  existed  at  Sagi- 
naw in  the  fall  of  1837,  they  were  certainly  the  only 
ones  (with  one  exception)  upon  that  river,  as  the  "City  ** 
was  the  only  settlement,  if  we  except  a  few  solitary  cabins. 

Where  now  the  busy  and  populous  cities  of  East  Sc^gi- 
naw,  Bay  City,  Winona  and  Portsmouth,  numbering 
their  many  thousands,  stretch  almost  into  a  continuous 
village,  for  twenty  miles  below,  where  the  clangor  of 
a  hundred  mills  mingles  with  the  puff  of  steamers  and 
the  scream  of  the  locomotive,  and  a  scene  of  industry, 
enterprise  and  thrift  is  exhibited  which  few  spots  on 
this  earth  can  rival,  was  at  the  period  of  my  visit  a  sol- 
itude, resonant  only  with  the  grand,  still  voices  of 
Nature.  Beyond  the  settlement  immediately  about 
the  "  City,'*  extended  the  untrimmed  forest,  as  vast 
and  almost  as  undisturbed  as  when,  to  the  eyes  of  De 
Tocqueville,  it  was  "a  real  desert.** 

Having  advanced  so  far  with  my  narrative,  I  ought, 
perhaps,  in  the  manner  of  story-tellers, — though  mine  is 
no  fiction, — to  give  a  description  of  the  personal  appear- 
ance of  my  personages. 

Though  nearly  a  generation  has  passed  since  the 
death  of  Dr.  Houghton,  no  doubt  most  of   those  here 


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present  well  remember  the  peculiar  characteristics  of  one 
not  easily  forgotten  ; — his  diminutive  stature — his  keen 
blue  eye, — his  quick,  active  motions, — the  strong  sense 
and  energy  of  his  words,  when  dealing  with  matters  of 
science,  and  his  indomitable  perseverance  in  carrying  out 
his  designs.  They  well  remember,  too,  his  love  of  fun, 
and  his  hilarious  manner  of  telling  a  comic  story.  Of 
such  he  had  a  large  fund,  and  a  happy  way  of  using ; 
preserving  a  grave  countenance  until  he  got  through, 
and  then  joining  in  the  laugh  with  a  peculiar  cachina- 
tion,  so  contagious  as  to  be  alone  sufficient  to  set  every 
one  in  a  roar. 

He  was  no  carpet  knight  of  science,  and  on  his  geolog- 
ical excursions  never  flinched  from  hard  work  and  ex- 

On  these  occasions  he  usually  wore  a  suit  of  gray,  the 
coat  having  large  side-pockets,  and  hanging  loosely 
upon  his  small  frame.  The  hands  and  feet  were  very 
small,  but  the  latter  were  incased  in  boots  that  came 
almost  to  his  thighs.  •  His  shocking  bad  hat  was  broad- 
brimmed  and  slouched,  almost  concealing  his  face,  and 
his  whole  appearance  was  that  of  a  battered,  weather- 
worn backwoodsman. 

I  remember  meeting  him  a  few  years  later,  when  his 
scientific  mind  and  energetic  body  had  unravelled  the 
mysteries  of  the  mineral  region  of  Lake  Superior,  and 
when  the  new  fame  of  that  region  had  called  hosts  of 
scientists  to  those  yet  wild  shores.  He  had  just  landed 
at  Eagle  River,  fresh  from  one  of  his  rough  expeditions, 
and  was  immediately  hailed  and  surrounded  by  men 
known  over  the  whole  land  for  their  scientific  learning, 
to  whose  figures  and  bearing  his  own  presented  a  strik- 
ing contrast.      Yet   these   men    bowed  to   his   superior 


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knowledge, — sagacity  I  might  term  it ;  and  one  of  them 
frankly  said  in  my  hearing,  that  the  little,  rough-looking 
Doctor  carried  more  true  knowledge  in  his  cranium 
"  than  all  the  big  heads  put  together.*' 

I  am  the  more  reminded  of  the  personal  app^rance 
of  our  party  by  an  incident  which  occurred,  on  occasion 
of  our  return  to  Saginaw  from  a  similar  expedition,  in 
the  following  spring.  We  happened  to  be  there  at  the 
time  of  the  marriage  of  a  sister  of  Mr.  Little,  and  were 
among  the  distinguished  guests  invited  to  the  wedding. 
Now  it  chanced  that  one  of  the  corps — I  will  not  say 
who — had,  with  false  economy,  donned  for  the  expedi- 
tion a  suit  of  old  clothes,  which  proved  to  be  unequal  to 
the  rough  usage  imposed  upon  them.  When  we  reached 
Saginaw  he  was  literally  in  tatters.  A  hole  garnished 
each  elbow ;  another  became  visible  when  either  arm  was 
raised.  I  have  already  alluded  to  the  uncouth  boots  we 
wore.  They  were  outside  the  pantaloons,  and  when 
not  on  river  service,  the  wide  tops  were  turned  down  from 
the  knee.  The  soles  had  uncommon  width,  the  rule 
which  regulated  surveyors*  boots  being  that  these  shall 
project  so  far  beyond  the  uppers  that  a  mouse  might 
run  round  on  them. 

As  the  other  members  of  the  corps  were  in  little 
better  condition,-^none  of  us  having  a  wedding  garment, 
— we  would  gladly  have  tendered  our  regrets,  but  the 
persuasive  words  of  our  host  were  not  to  be  withstood. 

When  I  say  that  we  went,  I  shall  only  add,  that  al- 
though an  apparition  so  unusual,  among  a  company  of 
well  dressed  ladies  and  gentlemen,  might  well  have  oc- 
casioned remark,  the  good  sense  and  true  politeness  of 
our  host  and  his  guests  saved  us  mortification,  and  left 
no  cause  to  repent  the  venture. 


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As  I  have  undertaken  to  describe  the  personnel  of  our 
party,  I  must  not  omit  some  further  mention  of  its 
fourth  member.  Dash  was  of  spaniel  breed,  and  fond 
of  the  water.  In  the  supply  of  our  larder  he  performed 
the  service  of  bringing  to  our  boat  the  wild-fowl  that 
we  occasionally  shot,  and  which  was  abundant  in  these 
waters.  Nature  had  furnished  him  with  capacious  jaws, 
which  no  game  could  escape,  when  once  within  their 
grip.  He  had  a  habit  of  coming  upon  game  with  his 
mouth  wide  open. 

On  one  occasion,  seeing  what  he  supposed  to  be  a 
bird  floating,  he  swam  towards  it,  with  mouth  stretched 
as  usual,  and  making  a  grab,  his  jaws  came  together  with 
a  sudden  and  loud  snap  over  a  piece  of  foam.  Never 
was  dog  more  puzzled.  He  looked  about  with  an  air  of 
great  amazement,  and  returned,  very  sheepishly,  to  be 
drawn  into  the  boat. 

I  will  relate  another  anecdote,  as  showing  how  he  im- 
proved in  his  scientific  education.  On  a  future  occasion, 
being  sent  out  for  a  wounded  "  diver,"  and  not  compre- 
hending the  resource  of  that  active  and  sharp-witted 
fowl,  on  the  dog*s  near  approach  the  duck  suddenly 
dived  out  of  sight.  Dash  was  in  evident  bewilderment, 
and  unable  to  account  for  the  sudden  disappearance. 
But  he  was  not  a  dog  to  be  discouraged  by  so  difficult  a 
problem,  and  after  the  trick  had  been  several  times  re- 
peated, a  glimmer  of  the  true  state  of  the  case  entered 
his  canine  brain.  This  accomplished,  he  was  equal  to 
the  emergency;  for  when  the  diver  again  went  down  Dash 
followed,  and  both  were  for  some  time  out  of  sight.  But 
the  dog  came  up  victor,  with  the  bird  in  his  mouth. 

As  it  was  in  our  plan  to  inspect  the  salt  springs  on 
the  Tittabawassee,  we  had  forwarded  to  Saginaw  from 


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Detroit  supplies  of  biscuit,  relying  upon  the  country  for 
our  pork.  But  none  was  to  be  had,  and  we  were  com- 
pelled to  resume  our  journey  as  destitute  of  that  im- 
portant item  as  were  the  poor  inhabitants  themselves, 
who,  with  a  large  stock  of  merchandise,  and  the  great 
name  of  City,  were  awaiting  the  arrival  of  a  schooner  to 
obtain  the  common  necessaries  of  life.  It  was  to  be 
hoped  they  were  better  off  for  intellectual  food,  for  the 
place  supported  a  public  journal. 

Having  obtained  an  order  for  a  more  suitable  canoe 
and  a  guide,  we  bade  temporary  adieu  to  Saginaw 
(September  25),  but  were  forced  by  a  heavy  rain  to 
seek  shelter  at  the  house  of  a  Mr.  Gardner,  a  short  dis- 
tance above,  where,  fortunately,  we  procured  a  few  pounds 
of  pork.  Here,  at  evening,  a  few  neighbors  dropped  in, 
and  we  consumed  the  time  pleasantly  in  tales  of  hunt- 
ing adventures  and  fearful  Indian  murders ! 

The  next  day  found  us  at  a  village  of  the  Chippewas 
sixteen  miles  from  Saginaw.  It  consisted  of  a  few 
lodges,  mostly  deserted,  small-pox  having  nearly  exter- 
minated the  band. 

At  the  forks  of  the  Tittabawassee  and  Pine  rivers  we 
found  several  log  cabins,  one  of  which  had  been  occupied 
as  a  trading-post.  They  were  inhabited,  by  half-breeds. 
A  Frenchman,  with  his  two  Indian  wives,  occupied  the 

It  was  still  common  enough  to  find,  along  the  shores 
of  the  great  lakes  and  rivers,  which  had  been  so  long  the 
highways  of  those  lawless  rangers, — the  Coureurs  de  bois, 
— during  the  flourishing  period  of  the  fur  trade,  the 
cabin  of  a  Canadian,  who,  with  his  Indian  wife  or  wives 
and  a  troop  of  half-breed  children,  had  completely 
adopted  the  native  habits.     He   lived  a    half-vagabond 


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life,  depending  upon  fishing  and  trapping,  and  sometimes 
finding  employment  as  a  voyageur. 

A  fair  specimen  of  this  class  was  our  gpide,  Pierre 
Gruet.  Of  mixed  French  and  Indian  blood,  it  was  hard 
to  tell  of  which  character  he  most  partook.  Equally  at 
home  in  the  Canadian  cabin  and  the  Indian  wigwam,  he 
seemed  to  be  acquainted  with  every  individual  of  either 
race  that  we  met,  and  had  a  world  of  talk  to  unburden 
himself  of  whenever  we  passed  a  lodge  or  met  a  canoe. 
French  joviality  was  in  him  united  with  savage  wilful- 
ness. Well  enough  when  confined  to  his  profession  of 
guide  and  interpreter ;  as  a  worker,  one  American  was 
worth  a  dozen  of  him. 

Opposite  these  forks  of  the  river  had  been  "  located  ** 
the  village  of  Midland;*  but  it  was  a  village  without 

Ascending  to  Salt  River,  we  completed  such  examina- 
tion of  the  springs  as  the  heavy  rains  of  the  season  per- 
mitted. The  year  following,  the  State  commenced  a 
boring  for  a  salt  well  near  this  point,  but  after  a  season's 
labor,  with  favorable  results,  the  many  discouragements 
attending  the  work  caused  its  abandonment.  Not  the 
least  of  these  was  the  necessity  of  sending  to  Detroit, 
with  long  delays  and  great  expense,  for  everything 
needed,  even  for  repairs  of  the  augers.  It  was  not  until 
many  years  afterwards,  and  when  along  these  vast  water- 
courses populous  towns  had  sprung  up,  that  the  conclu 
sions  of  science  were  brought  to  a  full  practical  test,  by 
the  establishment  of  salt  wells  on  the  Saginaw;  with 
what  success  you  are  all  familiar. 

I  will  only  say,  that  in  strength  and  purity  the  salt  of 

*  Now  a  flourishing  city  of  four  thousand  inhabitants  (1885). 


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the  Saginaw  Valley  is  fully  equal  to  the  celebrated  arti- 
cle so  extensively  made  in  Central  New  York ;  that  it 
can  be  more  cheaply  manufactured  ;  and,  with  the  increas- 
ing facilities  for  market,  is  destined  to  be  a  very  impor- 
tant part  of  the  wealth  of  Michigan.  Already  Saginaw 
furnishes  a  supply  one-half  as  large  as  the  famous  Onon- 

We  had  now  penetrated  into  the  wilderness,  many 
miles  beyond  the  most  remote  of  the  settlements  of  the 
AnglorSaxon.  Wild  game  was  very  abundant,  but  we 
had  not  the  time  nor  means  to  pursue  it.  Besides  deer, 
we  had  often  seen  along  the  shore  tracks  of  the  elk, 
and  sometimes  of  the  moose, — an  animal  almost  extinct. 
Occasionally  an  otter  raised  his  head  above  the  water,  or 
plunged  into  it  from  the  bank.  We  found  fresh  marks  of 
the  labors  of  the  beaver, — that  most  interesting  creature, 
once  existing  hereabouts  in  immense  numbers,  and  now 
quite  hunted  to  the  death.  We  had  shot  a  snow-owl 
and  driven  an  eagle  from  his  eyry,  and  had  been  regaled 
with  bear's  meat,  furnished  us  by  the  Indians. 

How  lovely,  to  our  unaccustomed  eyes,  did  nature 
appear  in  these  solitudes  !  The  first  frosts  had  fallen, 
and  tinged  the  maples  with  yellow,  orange  and  crimson  ; 
the  beech  was  beginning  to  assume  its  russet  coat,  and 
the  hickories  their  brilliant  yellow,  gleaming,  in  the  soft- 
ened autumn  sun,  like  towers  of  gold !  The  river  banks, 
densely  wooded,  and  overrun  by  the  scarlet  ivy,  were 
truly  magnificent.  In  strong  contrast  with  these  brill- 
iant colors  of  the  autumn  was  the  dark  green — almost 
black,  in  the  shadow  of  the  thick  woodland — of  the  hem- 
lock and  fir,  amid  which  shone  the  white  bark  of  the 
silver  birch,  and  above  all  reared  the  verdant  heads  of 
many  a  lofty  pine. 


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As  yet  no  lumberman's  axe  had  sought  to  desecrate 
these  glorious  shades,  nor  the  speculator  to  count  the 
dollars  that  lay  hid  in  the  hearts  of  these  mighty  pines. 

But  marvellous  changes  were  in  the  not  distant  future. 

The  traffic  in  lumber,  in  the  region  watered  by  the 
Saginaw  and  its  tributaries,  which  had  hardly  its  begin- 
ning a  decade  after  the  period  I  am  describing,  has  in 
our  day  reached  dimensions  of  which  the  wildest  brain 
could  not  then  have  dreamed.  The  main  river,  for 
twenty  miles  from  thq  city  of  Saginaw  to  its  mouth,  i§ 
lined  with  mills.  Mainly  from  this  source  of  wealth 
numerous  cities  have  sprung  into  vigorous  existence,  and 
five  hundred  millions  of  feet  of  lumber  are  sent  annually, 
by  water  and  rail,  south,  east  and  west,  thousands  of 
miles.  Michigan  pine  is  in  demand, -even  within  the 
sound  of  the  lumber  woods  of  Maine  and  Pennsylvania. 

I  recently  visited  Midland,  not,  as  before,  by  the  slow 
progress  of  a  little  boat  propelled  by  hands,  but  in  the 
magnificent  cars  of  the  Flint  &  Pere  Marquette  Railway, 
transported  by  the  wings  of  steam.  Where,  in  1837,  was 
laid  the  wilderness  city  of  Midland, — a  site  without  an 
inhabitant,  and  approachable  only  by  the  river, — now 
stands  the  busy,  prosperous  county  seat.  A  railway 
connects  it  with  Saginaw,  and  is  rapidly  bearing  its  iron  - 
shod  feet  far  beyond,  and  joining  hands  with  those  vigor- 
ous pioneers  on  our  western  coasts,  that  are  rapidly  push- 
ing on  to  the  Straits  of  Mackinac.  A  street  of  shops, 
hotels  and  public  buildings,  parallel  with  the  river,  forms 
the  centre  to  a  town  which  covers,  scatteringly,  a  mile 
sqiiare,  with  its  churches,  mills  and  comfortable  homes. 

I  passed  forty  miles  further  on  to  the  north-west.  The 
scene  was  a  revelation.  We  are  accustomed  to  regard 
the  railroad  as  a  creation  that  follows  in  the  wake  of 


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man*s  progress.  Here  it  is  the  pioneer,  the  precursor  of 
civilization.  It  has  pierced  the  heart  of  the  hitherto 
unbroken  wilderness ;  cutting  for  itself  a  narrow  path, 
where,  on  either  side,  tall  pines  and  other  trees  rise  into  a 
straight  and  lofty  wall,  admitting  no  prospect,  except 
the  narrow  line  of  light  that  diminishes  to  a  thread  in 
the  distance.  No  time  has  been  allowed  for  clearings 
and  the  ordinary  attendants  of  cultivation.  These  are 
all  to  follow.  But  saw-mills  have  sprung  up  along  its 
magic  path,  and  line  the  road  so  thickly  that,  for  nearly 
the  whole  distance,  I  might  count  an  average  of  two 
mills  to  every  mile;  and  all  this  accomplished  within 
little  more  than  a  year. 

Having  accomplished  our  river  explorations,  we  pre- 
pared for  an  expedition  attended  with  some  danger  at 
that  late  season,  for  the  month  of  October  had  come. 
This  was  a  coasting  voyage,  from  Saginaw  to  Port 
Huron,  performed  in  the  canoe  which  had  been  procured 
at  the  Chippewa  Reservation.  It  was  a  "  dug-out  *'  of 
wood,  thirty  feet  long,  but  so  narrow,  that,  seated  in  the 
line  of  the  centre,  we  could  use  a  paddle  on  either  side. 
In  this  puny  craft  we  were  to  undertake,  in  the  midcSe 
of  autumn,  a  lake  journey  of  150  miles. 

We  descended  the  Saginaw,  which  then  exhibited  few 
indications  of  its  coming  greatness. 

East  Saginaw  had  no  existence.  The  village  of  Car- 
rolton  had  been  plotted,  four  miles  below  Saginaw  City, 
and  consisted  of  a  two-story  log  house,  used  years  lang- 
syne  as  a  trading-post. 

Portsmouth  contained  a  steam  mill,  four  log  cabins 

and   two   board   shanties,    lying  just   above   high-water 


Lower  Saginaw — now  Bay  City — occupied  somewhat 


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higher  ground,  and  boasted  a  pretty  frame  office  used  as 
a  chapel,  and  two  or  more  log  hots.  It  was  an  infant  of 
one  year.  In^  preparation  was  the  frame  of  a  hotel, 
which,  in  accordance  with  the  usual  custom  of  the  flush 
times, — already  sadly  gone, — was  large  enough  to  accom- 
modate half  the  county. 

I  must  here  mention  a  fact  which  1  have  never  seen 
alluded  to ;  viz.,  that  we  found  at  several  places  along 
the  river,  and  sparingly  on  the  Tittabawassee,  apple  trees. 
They  produced  agreeable  fruit,  and  some  were  apparently 
of  a  century's  growth.  I  will  not  speculate  upon  their 
origin  ;  whether  the  seeds  were  brought  here  in  the  fruit, 
and  accidentally  planted,  by  the  voyageurs  and  coureurs 
de  bois,  from  the  French  orchards  of  Canada,  or  whether 
they  have  a  date  still  more  remote.  It  is  curious  to 
notice  that  some  of  the  earliest  travellers  allude  to  or- 
chards, then  in  profuse  bearing,  upon  islands  in  the  De- 
troit River.     I  leave  the  problem  to  the  antiquary. 

Emerging  into  the  bay  we  encountered,  at  the  Kaw- 
kalin  River,  the  last  trace  of  civilized  footsteps  which  we 
were  to  see  for  many  days.  It  was  a  camp  of  United 
States  surveyors, — the  Rousseaus, — where  we  were  enter- 
tained for  the  night,  with  all  the  hospitality  which  it  is 
common  to  find  among  those  who  dwell  beyond  the  pale 
of  "good  society."  Unfortunately  for  our  appreciation 
of  these  good  fellows,  it  subsequently  appeared  that  the 
returns  of  these  surveyors  were  so  made-up  and  false 
that  entire  townships  had  to  be  re-surveyed  by  the 
Government.  Corruption  in  places  of  public  trust  is  not 
alone  of  modern  origin. 

Memorials  of  the  native  inhabitants  were  still  frequent. 
Upon  a  swelling  knoll  overlooking  the  bay,  in  the  midst 
of  a  tract  of  country  from  which  all  the  timber  had  been 

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burned,  was  a  spot  which  seemed  to  have  been  dedicated 
to  the  evil  Manitou.  Here  an  altar  was  erected,  composed 
of  two  large  stones,  several  feet  in  height,  with  a  flat  top 
and  broad  base.  About  were  smaller  stones,  which  were 
covered  with  propitiatory  offerings, — bits  of  tobacco, 
pieces  of  tin,  flints,  and  such  articles,  of  little  value  to  the 
Indian,  as,  with  religious  philosophy,  he  dedicates  to  his 
Manitou.  The  place  had  witnessed,  doubtless,  many  an 
Indian  powwow. 

In  the  interest  of  the  scientific  object  of  our  tour  I  will 
here  observe,  that  near  Au  Gres  River  we  discovered,  be- 
neath the  clear  waters  of  the  bay,  a  bed  of  gypsum. 
Subsequently,  an  outcrop  of  this  mineral  was  found  on 
the  neighboring  land,  and  has  been  long  quarried  with 

Some  islands  lay  several  miles  from  shore,  upon  our 
approach  to  which,  immense  numbers  of  gulls,  that  had 
here  their  secure  retreat  and  breeding-places,  wheeled 
about  us,  uttering  loud  cries.  The  young  ones  were 
easily  caught,  and  we  found  a  few  eggs.  Here  also  sport 
of  an  unusual  kind  awaited  us.  In  the  waves  that  broke 
among  the  boulders  along  the  shore,  sturgeon  were  gam- 
bolling. So  intent  were  they  upon  their  play,  and  so  igno- 
rant of  man's  superior  cunning,  that,  springing  in  among 
them,  after  a  vigorous  tussle  we  threw  one  ashore,  with 
no  other  aid  than  our  hands.  It  stocked  our  larder  for 
several  days,  with  its  variety  of  meat, — fish,  fowl  and — 
Albany  beef. 

Of  our  further  voyage,  until  we  rounded  Point  Aux 
Barques,  I  have  nothing  to  note,  beyond  the  usual  adven- 
tures and  delays  that  attend  mariners  in  so  perilous  a 
craft,  upon  the  treacherous  waves  of  Saginaw  Bay.  The 
toils  of  the  day  were  compensated  by  the  sweetest  of 

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slumbers,  when,  having  supped  on  pork  and  hard  bread, 
wrapped  each  in  his  blanket,  we  fell  asleep  beneath  the 
soft  influence  of  the  Pleiades. 

At  the  point  alluded  to  the  coast  is  iron-bound,  afford- 
ing no  harbor,  and  being  thickly  wooded  with  evergreens, 
its  aspect  was  forbidding  and  gloomy.  Add  to  this,  that 
the  waves  are  incessantly  lashing  the  rocks,  which  receive 
the  whole  fury  of  the  sea,  whether  the  wind  be  from  the 
lake  on  the  right  or  the  broad  bay  on  the  left.  This 
action  of  the  waters  has  caused  channels  to  be  worn 
through  large  masses  of  the  friable  sandstone,  which, 
tumbling  into  the  lake,  form  small  islets. 

In  doubling  the  cape,  the  voyageur  is  struck  with  the 
singular  appearance  of  two  projecting  masses,  detached 
from  the  main,  and  covered  with  timber.  They  bear 
close  resemblance  to  the  bows  of  vessels,  with  the  hulls 
exposed  down  to  the  keel.  The  bowsprit  and  sides  are 
nearly  perfect.  They  are  about  50  feet  in  the  beam,  and 
16  to  20  in  height.  Nature  seems  often  to  delight  in 
such  mimicry  of  the  works  of  man.  The  name  which 
was  bestowed  by  the  French,  at  an  early  day,  continues 
still  significant  of  the  mimic  resemblance. 

Near  White  Rock,  on  Ihe  Lake  Huron  coast,  50  miles 
from  its  outlet,  at  the  boundary  of  the  then  surveyed  por- 
tion of  Sanilac  County,  we  found  a  settler, — the  first  we 
had  met  since  leaving  Saginaw  River.  Mr.  Allen  had 
been  here  three  months,  and,  with  five  hands,  was  erect- 
ing a  saw-mill  on  a  dashing  little  brook  that  had  nearly 
swamped  us  in  entering.  He  had  no  neighbor,  but  the 
mistress  of  the  house  informed  us  they  had  been  all  sum- 
mer in  expectation  and  promise  of  the  settlement  at 
White  Rock  City  of  200  families. 

The  annals  of  this  place  constitute  one  of  those  chap- 


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ters  of  romance,  of  which  the  records  of  1835  and  1836  are 
so  replete.  Before  the  rage  of  real-estate  speculation 
was  at  its  height,  and  all  through  that  wild  fever,  we  had 
known  of  *' White  Rock  City/' 

Maps,  executed  in  the  highest  style  of  the  topographic 
art, — displayed  in  hotel  bar-rooms  and  other  public 
places,  where  congregated  the  thousand  seekers  after  the 
fortune  that  courted  the  happy  possessor  of  valuable  lots 
and  water  privileges, — had  announced  its  unrivalled  situ- 
ation and  advantages.  They  depicted  the  magnificent 
harbor,  at  the  mouth  of  a  large  stream,  into  which  steam- 
boats were  entering.  Saw-mills  were  converting  the  for- 
ests into  houses.  Around  the  Public  Square  clustered  a 
Court-house,  churches,  and  other  public  buildings,  not 
omitting  the  inevitable  Bank,  and  the  air  of  prosperity 
which  pervaded  the  place  was  evident  at  a  glance.  Auc- 
tioneers had  sounded  its  praises,  and  struck  off  its  lots, 
at  popular  prices,  to  eager  buyers.  None  of  the  rising 
cities  for  which  Michigan  had  become  famous  had  so 
wide  a  celebrity,  and  distributed  stock  so  liberally. 

And  now  we  were  to  see,  with  our  own  eyes,  this  west- 
ern marvel,  or  at  least  its  ruins. 

A  large  white  boulder  in  the 'lake  marked  the  entrance, 
and  gave  name  to  this  modern  Karnac.  We  found  the 
entering  river.  It  hardly  admitted  our  log  canoe.  Har- 
bor there  was  none.  Churches,  houses,  mills,  people, 
— all  were  a  myth.  A  thick  wilderness  covered  the  whole 
site.  Excepting  Mr.  Allen,  it  was  40  miles  to  the  nearest 
inhabitant.  Where  the  Public  Square  had  been  depicted 
stood  several  large  beech  trees.  On  one  of  these  we 
carved  the  names  of  our  party,  who  were  thus  registered, 
for  the  benefit  of  future  visitors,  as  the  first  guests  of  the 
^^  White  Rock  Hotel.'' 


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It  may  serve  more  fully  to  show  the  adventurous  char- 
acter of  our  expedition,  if  I  close  this  narrative  by  some 
detail  of  our  last  day*s  experience,— perhaps  not  a  very 
unusual  one  in  canoe  navigation.  It  may  serve,  too,  to 
illustrate  the  risks  incurred  by  our  daring  chief ;  some- 
times too  rashly,  and,  alas !  once  too  often ! 

On  the  night  of  October  11,  we  encamped  22  miles 
from  Fort  Gratiot,  and  congratulated  ourselves  on  the 
near  conclusion  of  our  journey.  For  this  there  was* 
reason,  as  our  provisions  were  gone  and  the  weather  was 
stormy.  Here  a  hard  wind  detained  us  a  day,  and  the 
morning  succeeding  showed  the  waters  risen  several  feet, 
and  rolling  in  huge  breakers.  To  proceed  by  water 
seemed  impossible,  but  there  was  no  travelled  road  to 
Black  River,  and  our  provisions  were  exhausted.  For 
several  days  we  had  been  on  rations,  and  our  poor  canine 
friend,  who  at  the  outset  could  not  eat  duck  meat,  was 
glad  to  swallow  a  wing, — feathers  and  all.  A  council  of 
war  decided  to  trust  once  more  to  the  boisterous  waves, 
which  our  frail  craft  had  hitherto  borne  us  over  in  safety. 

Raising  the  boat  upon  rollers,  we  packed  in  tent  and 
bags — the  latter  now  heavy  with  "  specimens  '* — so  ar- 
ranged as  to  make  three  partitions,  established  Dash  in 
his  place,  while  the  rest  took  each  his  station.  Thus  ap- 
pointed, we  ran  rapidly  out  into  the  water,  leaped  aboard, 
and  pulled  from  the  land.  The  launch  was  neatly  effect- 
ed, but  danger  was  ahead.  Encountering  the  breakers  we 
at  once  shipped  a  sea,  which  completely  filled  the  fore- 
most division.  This  was  occupied  by  the  Doctor,  who 
cried,  "We  are  swamped.'*  But  a  pail  stood  ready  to 
each  hand.  The  Doctor  bailed  while  the  others  pulled 
stoutly  on  their  paddles,  and  we  were  soon  beyond  the 
breakers.     Return  was  now  impossible.     The  temperature 


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was  at  freezing,  and  we  received  a  ducking  from  many  a 
white-cap  that  chilled  us  to  the  marrow.  Our  little  boat 
was  a  morsel  for  the  waves,  and  when  one  of  those  huge 
swells — the  three  sisters,  as  sailors  call  them — lifted  us 
up,  we  seemed  hurrying  inevitably  to  the  shore,  and  when 
it  receded  its  crest  concealed  everything  but  the  sky 
and  the  watery  horizon.  We  could  not  raise  sail  without 
danger  of  running  under,  and  many  a  wave-crest  must  be 
beaten  back  with  our  paddles,  and  our  pails  were  seldom 

But  **  the  longest  day  will  have  an  end,**  and  after  five 
hours  endurance,  wet,  exhausted  and  hungry,  we  landed 
at  the  light-house.  Thence  we  descended  to  Black  River, 
two  miles  below,  where  the  village  of  Port  Huron  was  in 
the  second  year  of  its  infancy.  From  here  a  steam-boat 
conveyed  us  to  Detroit. 

Thus  ended  our  adventurous  journey,  **  by  flood  and 

I  have  only  to  add,  that  if  my  long-drawn  gossip 
has  contributed  to  your  entertainment,  or  given  any 
clearer  impression  of  the  Michigan  of  34  years  ago,  it 
will  not  have  proved  altogether  idle. 


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"  Few  and  evil  were  the  days  of  this  banking,  and  the  history  of  the  system 
of  wild-cat  banks  would  be  humiliating,  but  perhaps  profitable,  reading  now, 
although  the  sharpers  and  rascals  of  1876  are  undoubtedly  more  adept  in 
knavery  than  their  ruder  predecessors,  and  would  not  be  proud  of  such 
small  swindling.  The  crash  came  as  soon  as  the  general  business  panic 
began  to  spread  through  the  Union ;  and  within  five  years  after  the  State 
was  formed,  the  financial  ruin  of  the  people  was  complete." — Chief-Justice 
Campbell,  "  Outlines  of  the  Political  History  of  Michigan,"  1876. 


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WHILE  the  errors  of  the  past  constitute  the 
wisest  lessons  of  the  future,  the  following  epi- 
sode in  Western  history  may  be  read  with  profit.  The 
story  is  not  new,  but  may  derive  some  additional  interest 
from  the  individual  experience  of  the  writer. 

The  years  1835,  1836  and  1837  were  to  Michigan  one 
of  those  **  periods  of  unexampled  prosperity  **  with  which 
our  country  has  been  periodically  favored.  In  its  char- 
acter and  results  no  better  example  has  occurred  in  our 
history.  This  prosperous  condition  had  begun  to  mani- 
fest itself  in  the  extraordinary'  demand  for  wild  lands,  and 
in  the  sudden  appreciation  of  the  immense  advantages 
possessed  by  a  great  number  of  places  in  the  **  West,*'  and 
particularly  in  newly  opened  Michigan,  for  the  building  up 
of  large  cities.  That  the  Peninsula  possessed  unequalled 
*'  water  privileges  '*  could  not  be  doubted  by  any  one  who 
recognized  its  position  on  the  map  of  the  United  States, 
almost  surrounded  by  the  waters  of  the  Great  Lakes. 
Interior  lakes,  too,  were  numerous,  and  large  and  rapid 
streams  everywhere  intersected  the  land.  At  least  this 
was  the  case  so  far  as  the  country  was  known,  for  the 
Government  surveys  had  extended  over  not  more  than 
one-third  of  its  surface.  These  surveys  had  opened  to 
sale,  at  the  low  price  of  one  dollar  and  twenty-five  cents 

♦Published  in  the  Magazine  of  Western  History^  January,  1886. 



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per  acre,  a  most  beautiful  and  varied  country  of  "  oak- 
openings  "  and  timbered  lands,  with  occasional  small  roll- 
ing prairies,  all  interspersed  with  lakes  and  streams. 
What  a  mine  of  wealth  lay  in  a  few  thousand,  or  even  a 
few  hundred  acres  of  such  lands  at  the  low  price  of  a  dol- 
lar and  a  quarter  per  acre ! 

From  the  very  beginning  of  the  period  we  are  consid- 
ering, and  even  before,  a  steady  stream,  of  immigration 
had  begun  to  pour  into  the  territory.  It  consisted  mostly 
of  people  of  means  and  respectability  from  the  older 
States,  led  by  the  prospect  of  cheaper  lands.  Wagons 
loaded  with  household  goods  and  surmounted  by  a  live 
freight  of  women  and  children — the  men  trudging  on 
foot — were  constantly  entering  by  the  almost  only  door, 
Detroit,  in  great  numbers,  bound  for  some  paradise  in 
the  new  Eldorado.  A  curious  spectacle  at  one  time  pre- 
sented itself — literally  a  drove  of  men — Frenchmen  from 
lower  Canada — taken  on  by  an  adventurer  to  be  settled 
upon  the  River  St.  Joseph,  at  the  mouth  of  which,  in  the 
olden  time,  their  countrymen  had  built  a  ''  fort  "  among 
the  savages.  Each  had  his  pack,  bound  up  in  a  blanket, 
upon  his  shoulders,  and  the  baggage  followed  in  a  wagon  ; 
for  the  United  States  Government  had  opened  a  road  in 
that  direction,  leading  from  Detroit  to  Chicago. 

Men  who  never  before  saw  a  wilderness  were  tempted 
to  set  forth,  on  horseback  and  on  foot,  in  the  spirit 
which  prompted  so  many  gentlemen  adventurers,  in  the 
early  settlement  of  the  New  World,  to  swell  the  ranks  of 
the  colonists — the  prospect  of  speedy  and  golden  fortunes. 
The  numbers  that  crowded  to  the  search  soon  converted 
the  ordinary  slow  process  into  a  race. 

Three  land-offices  had  been  opened  by  the  Government 
in  Michigan — one  at  Detroit,  one  at  Monroe,  another 


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near  the  western  extremity  of  the  knewn  portion  of  the 
territory  at  Kalamazoo,  then  called  Bronson.  The  strife 
and  eagerness  which  prevailed  at  these  offices  passed  all 
sober  bounds.  They  were  besieged  long  before  the  hour 
arrived  for  opening;  crowds  of  anxious  faces  gathered 
about  the  doors  and  blocked  up  the  windows,  each  eager 
to  make  "  entry  "  of  some  splendid  tract  of  farming  land, 
or  better  still,  some  magnificent  site  for  a  town,  before  an 
equally  greedy  speculator  should  discover  a;nd  pounce 
upon  the  treasure. 

One  of  these  land-lookers,  who  had  been  for  days  trav- 
ersing the  woods  and  "taking  notes,"  if  he  chanced  to 
fall  in  with  some  one  who  was  suspected  of  having  seen 
the  coveted  tract,  secretly  hurried  off,  in  the  dead  of 
night,  determined  to  steal  a  march  upon  the  others  and 
secure  the  prize.  Often,  after  an  exhausting  ride  and  a 
still  more  tedious  waiting  for  his  turn,  he  obtained  his 
chance  at  the  window,  only  to  learn  that  a  more  wary  ap- 
plicant had  been  beforehand  with  him.  What  exultation 
if  he  found  himself  in  time !  What  execration  upon  his 
ill  fate  if  too  late ! 

At  the  hotels  were  gathered  animated  crowds,  from  all 
quarters  of  the  country,  of  speculators  in  lands.  Every 
one  who  had  secured  some  fortunate  entry  was  busily 
proclaiming  his  good  luck,  and  calculating  his  gains. 
The  less  fortunate,  and  those  who  were  unable  to  convert 
themselves  into  woodsmen,  were  satisfied  to  take,  the  ac- 
counts of  others  on  trust,  and  buy  at  second  hand,  of 
course  at  a  very  large  advance,  expecting  in  their  turn  to 
realize  a  handsome  increase. 

Beautifully  engraved  maps  of  new  city  plots  were  exe- 
cuted in  all  haste,  on  which  the  contemplated  improve- 
ments  were  laid  down.     Hotels,  warehouses  and  banks 


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were  here  erected^  like  palaces  in  fairy  land ;  piers  pro- 
jected into  the  harbors,  and  steam-boats  were  seen  enter- 
ing. Wherever  a  crowd  could  be  collected  auctioneers 
were  knocking  down  lots  to  eager  buyers,  and  happy  was 
he  who  secured  one  with  a  "fine  water  privilege,*'  at  a 
price  a  thousand  fold  beyond  its  first  cost  of  a  few  days 
before.  Nor  were  these  improvements  all  upon  paper. 
In  an  incredibly  short  time  small  clearings  had  been 
effected,  a  town  plat  surveyed — often  half  a  hundred  miles 
from  the  nearest  actual  settler — and  shingle  palaces  arose 
in  the  wilderness,  or  amid  the  burned  stumps  that  were 
left  for  time  to  remove.  Prominent  among  these,  and 
often  the  only  buildings  erected  preliminary  to  the  sale 
of  lots,  were  a  hotel  and  a  bank. 

At  the  admission  of  Michigan  into  the  Union,  in  1836, 
the  territory  contained  fifteen  chartered  banks,  with  a 
population  estimated  at  nearly  one  hundred  and  fifty 
thousand.  These  banks  were  all  authorized  to  issue 
"currency.**  Why  should  these  few  enjoy  a  monopoly 
of  so  good  a  thing  as  money,  which  benefited  all  alike, 
and  of  which  there  could  not  be  too  much  ?  Consequent- 
ly one  of  the  first  acts  of  the  new  State  government,  March, 
1837,  was  to  pass  a  general  banking  law.  Thus  by  a  bold 
stroke  monopoly  was  abolished,  while  bill-holders  were 
made  exceptionally  secure  by  a  pledge  of  real  estate.  Of 
this  everybody  held  large  quantities,  and  nothing  had 
proved  so  convertible.  Confidence  in  it  was  unbounded. 
Of  course  every  proprietor  of  a  *'  city  **  started  a  bank. 

These  became  so  numerous  that  money  was  one  of  the 
most  plentiful  of  commodities.  The  new  currency  was 
made  redeemable  in  gold  and  silver,  and  every  bank  was 
required  to  keep  in  its  vaults  thirty  per  cent,  of  its  circu- 
lation in  the  precious  metals.     When  to  these  precautions 


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was  added  the  real  estate,  pledged  for  the  redemption  of 
the  bills,  and  the  whole  placed  under  the  supervision  of 
commissioners  specially  appointed,  and  who  were  to  visit 
and  examine  the  banks  every  few  months,  could  reason- 
able man  ask  for  more  simple  security  ? 

The  banks  of  Eastern  States,  also,  had  a  large  circulation 
in  the  West,  and  they  expanded  to  the  full  extent  of  their 
powers.  The  effect  of  such  rapid  increase  of  the  circulat- 
ing medium  was  to  enhance  prices  of  all  commodities,  and 
to  stimulate  speculation.  Money  became  flush  in  every 
pocket,  and  all  who  had  "the  fever** — and  few  had  not — 
were  anxious  to  invest  and  own  one  or  more  of  these 
farms  and  city  lots  that  were  held  at  such  high  value,  and 
were  making  every  holder  rich.  Poor  women,  who  had 
accumulated  a  little  spare  cash,  widows  and  sewing  girls, 
were  only  too  thankful  when  some  kind  friend  volunteered 
to  put  them  in  the  way  of  realizing  some  such  fortunate 
investment.  The  southern  counties  of  Michigan  were 
speedily  bought  up,  and  the  Government  surveys  were  not 
rapid  enough  to  satisfy  the  greed. 

Stimulated  by  the  abounding  sunshine,  the  State,  too, 
had  entered  the  arena,  in  its  official  capacity,  and  under- 
taken a  vast  system  of  internal  improvements,  for  which  its 
bonds  were  outstanding  to  the  amount  of  five  million 
dollars.  But  already  storm-clouds  were  gathering,  which 
were  soon  to  darken  the  whole  heavens.  As  a  ship,  which 
for  many  days  has  sailed  gallantly  on  its  course  under 
favoring  winds,  with  all  of  its  canvas  spread,  is  forced  to 
take  in  sail  when  a  shift  of  the  wind  threatens  a  gale, 
so  the  banks,  which  had  so  greatly  "  expanded  ' '  in  the 
breezes  of  universal  prosperity,  found  it  necessary  to 
"  contract  *'  at  the  first  suspicion  of  a  change.  Suddenly 
the  storm  fell.    A^  the  first  demand  to  realize  for  their 


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bills  in  specie,  the  banks  were  compelled  to  call  in  their 
circulation.  As  the  whole  amount  of  specie  in  the  coun- 
try was  far  below  the  amount  of  paper  in  circulation, 
many  banks  broke  under  the  large  demand  which  fell 
upon  them  as  soon  as  the  public  became  suspicious  of 
their  ability  to  pay.  All  were  forced  to  contract  their 
loans,  and  money  was  rapidly  being  called  in,  instead  of 
being  liberally  paid  out  as  before. 

Money  speedily  became  "  tight."  As  few  banks  were 
able  to  sustain  the  pressure,  it  became  necessary,  in  the 
view  of  the  public  authorities,  to  exercise  the  power, 
where  it  existed,  to  suspend  specie  payments.  Accord- 
ingly an  act  was  passed  to  that  effect  by  the  State  Legisla- 
ture, which  was  summoned  for  that  purpose  by  the  gov- 
ernor, June,  1837,  only  three  months  after  the  passage  of 
the  general  banking  law.  It  was  thus  hoped  to  tide  over 
the  pressure,  which  was  believed  to  be  but  temporary. 

Prior  to  the  passage  of  this  act,  about  twenty  banks  had 
registered  and  gone  into  operation  under  the  general  law. 
As  the  act  did  not  repeal  this  law,  many  more  took  advan- 
tage of  the  privilege  afforded  by  it  of  issuing  irredeemable 
paper ;  so  that  before  the  inevitable  end  came  no  less  than 
fifty  banks  were  scattering  their  worthless  notes  as  far 
and  as  widely  as  means  could  be  found  to  effect  it.  But 
the  end  was  close  at  hand.  Prices  fell  with  as  magical  a 
facility  as  they  had  risen.  The  real  estate  security  of  the 
new  banks,  which  was  supposed  to  be  so  stable,  was  sud- 
denly found  to  be  the  weakest  security  possible.  In  the 
matter  of  the  percentage  of  specie  required  to  be  kept  in 
the  vaults,  it  was  found  that  the  grossest  frauds  had  been 
practised.  Kegs  filled  with  nails  and  broken  glass,  and 
having  only  an  upper  layer  of  coin,  had  been  substituted 
in  many  instances,  and  were  passed  as  genuine.     In  other 


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cases,  one  institution  loaned  temporarily  to  another  that 
was  about  to  receive  a  visit  from  the  commissioners,  and 
the  favor  was  reciprocated  when  its  turn  came.  One  by 
one,  in  rapid  succession,  the  banks  toppled  to  the  earth, 
from  which,  like  mushrooms,  they  had  sprung,  as  it  were, 
in  a  night.  They  were  known  universally  under  the  name 
of  "  wild-cats.**  The  most  worthless  were  styled  "  red- 
dog.**  The  bills  fell  to  a  mere  nominal  value,  or  greatly 
depreciated,  as  it  became  known  that  the  real  estate  held 
would  suffice  to  redeem  only  a  small  fraction  of  the  circu- 
lation. Much  of  this  was  found  to  be  of  no  value  what- 
ever, as  it  represented  merely  swindling  operations.  Many 
a  poor  man  thus  lost  all  his  available  means  of  livelihood. 

Many  anecdotes  were  told  of  these  hollow  institutions, 
and  many  a  joke  was  perpetrated  at  their  expense,  which 
would  be  laughable  enough  were  there  not,  in  sober  sad- 
ness,  less  occasion  for  mirth  than  for  tears  and  curses.  I 
vouch  for  the  authenticity  of  the  following  : 

One  of  the  Michigan  banks  had  gained  an  unusual 
share  of  notoriety,  under  the  name  of  "  The  Bank  of 
Sandstone.**  It  was  "  located  **  at  a  place  of  that  name, 
situated  in  the  central  part  of  the  State,  where  quarries  of 
a  fine  grit-stone  had  recently  been  opened.  These  con- 
stituted the  entire  commerce  of  the  little  burg,  and  the 
solid  corner-stone  of  the  new  institution,  whose  promises  to 
pay  were  in  wide  circulation*  An  old  resident  of  Mich- 
igan held  a  large  quantity  of  these  bills,  and  learning  that 
the  bank  was  "  broke,**  came  to  my  informant,  in  great 
distress,  for  advice.  He  was  advised  to  go  immediately 
to  Sandstone  and  demand  redemption,  as  it  was  under- 
stood the  bank  had  some  means,  and  the  usual  way  was 
"  first  come,  first  served.*'  The  advice  was  followed. 
The  man,  on  his  return,  called  on  his  adviser,  who  in- 


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quired  after  his  success,  and  was  assured  that  it  was  quite 
complete.  "  I  presented  my  roll,"  said  he,  '[  and  was  paid 
as  follows:  For  every  ten-dollar  bill,  a  millstone;  for 
every  five-dollar,  a  grindstone,  and  for  every  one-dollar 
bill  a  whetstone !  ** 

The  year  1838  saw  as  '*  hard  times  '*  in  Michigan  as  the 
two  previous  years  had  witnessed  a  seeming  prosperity. 
Men  of  supposed  large  wealth,  and  who  owned  thou- 
sands of  acres  of  wild  lands,  valued  at  hundreds  of  thou- 
sands of  dollars,  were  unable  to  buy  provision  for  their 
families,  and  knew  not  where  to  look  for  the  supply  of 
their  daily  wants.  Farmers  had  neglected  to  cultivate 
their  farms  in  the  struggle  to  amass  land.  The  new 
cities,  which  the  magic  wand  of  speculation  had  created, 
were  left  without  inhabitants.  Trade  was  paralyzed  for 
want  of  money,  and  prices  fell  below  the  old  standard. 
To  add  to  the  depreciation  of  real  estate,  a  strong  feeling 
arose  among  the  actual  settlers  against  non-resident  pro- 
prietors. These  were  called  "speculators,'*  and  many 
contrivances  were  resorted  to  to  throw  on  them  the 
burden  of  taxation.  Thus,  in  opening  new  roads,  the  res- 
ident was  permitted  to  work  out  his  tax,  at  an  easy  rate, 
by  an  understanding  with  the  overseers,  while  the  law 
compelled  the  non-resident  to  pay  a  higher  rate  in  money. 
Under  the  name  of  school-houses,  large  edifices  were  built 
and  used  for  town-meetings  and  religious  worship.  The 
non-resident  land-owner  was  charged  with  keeping  out 
settlers  by  raising  the  price  of  land,  in  forgetfulness  of  the 
fact  that  the  very  tide  of  speculation  had  been  the  means 
of  opening  up  the  country  to  future  settlement.  Land 
which  had  constituted  the  sole  wealth  of  thousands  be- 
came a  drug.  Large  tracts  were  frequently  abandoned  to 
the  tax-gatherer  for  a  sum  which  a  few  years  previous 


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HARD  TIMES,  xo\ 

would  not  have  bought  a  single  acre.  The  banks  did  not 
outlive  the  destruction  of  the  wealth  they  had  fictitiously 
created.  In  two  years  from  the  act  which  gave  them 
birth,  it  is  believed,  not  a  "wild-cat  *' nor  "red-dog"  of 
them  all  was  in  existence.  But  they  left  from  one  to  two 
millions  of  dollars  of  their  worthless  bills  in  the  hands  of 
creditors.  Four  or  five  chartered  banks  only  survived, 
and  they  proved  fully  sufficient  for  the  wants  of  the  pop- 
ulation for  years  to  come. 

The  year  following  the  crash  of  1838,  the  writer  had 
occasion  to  visit  the  ruins  of  several  of  those  renowned 
cities  that  had  flourished  so  magnificently — on  paper. 
One  of  these  was  situated  on  a  small  stream  which  dis- 
charged into  Lake  Michigan.  Most  of  the  streams  on 
this  side  of  the  Peninsula  have  lakes  near  their  outlets, 
originating  in  the  setting  back  of  the  water,  occasioned  by 
the  sand-bars  at  their  mouths.  These  lakes  are  often 
large  and  deep  enough  for  very  fine  harbors,  but  which 
can  be  made  available  only  by  the  construction  of  piers. 

The  village  of  Port  Sheldon  was  "  located  *'  at  the  out- 
let of  one  of  these  streams — the  smallest  of  its  kind,  and 
without  depth  of  water  sufficient  for  a  harbor.  But  one 
road  led  to  it  from  the  nearest  and  still  distant  settlement. 
It  was  in  the  midst  of  a  tall  forest  of  pines  and  other  tim- 
ber, very  few  of  which  had  been  cut  away.  The  clearing 
disclosed  a  large  frame  building,  handsomely  finished  out- 
wardly, but  a  mere  bam  within,  and  by  its  side  a  smaller 
one,  decorated  with  Grecian  pillars.  These  were  the 
hotel  and  the  bank.  And  they  were  the  only  buildings 
•in  the  place,  if  we  except  a  few  shanties  scarcely  decent 
for  the  abode  of  the  most  poverty-stricken.  The  bank 
had  collapsed  ;  the  hotel  was  without  guests ;  the  splendid 
bubble  had  burst,  and  its    brilliance  vanished  suddenly 


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and  forever.  In  1865  the  whole  town  plat,  consisting  of 
two  hundred  acres  of  very  poor  land,  was  sold  for  a  petty 
sum.  The  long  abandoned  and  desolate  site,  of  which 
its  projectors  had  published  with  prophetic  foresight  so 
many  years  before — "  Nature  seems  to  have  done  almost 
everything  for  this  point,  and  the  time  is  at  hand  when 
her  eminent  advantages  will  lift  her  to  the  first  rank 
among  our  cities  of  the  lakes" — was  now  the  owlish 
abode  of  a  solitary  Dutchman. 

Another  of  these  town  sites,  which  had  made  a  great 
noise,  was  situated  near  the  mouth  of  Maumee  Bay  of 
Lake  Erie.  It  was  on  low,  marshy  land,  which  had  been 
regularly  laid  out  in  streets  and  some  twenty  or  more 
buildings  erected.  The  high  water  of  1838  had  converted 
into  a  marsh  the  whole  site.  All  the  buildings  were  de- 
serted and  the  city  was  without  an  inhabitant.  Two  of 
the  houses  were  pointed  out — among  the  handsomest  in 
the  place — that  had  been  built  by  poor  milliner  girls,  who 
had  invested  in  them  all  their  earnings.  They  could  not 
be  approached,  except  by  boat.  This  was  the  Port  of 
Havre,  the  rival  of  its  namesake,  in  the  dreams  of  its 
founders  and  of  their  credulous  victims,  for  one  short 
year,  before  the  waters  of  desolation  swept  away  its 

One  of  the  first  found  and  most  famous  sites  was 
"White-rock  City.**  It  was  upon  the  shore  of  Lake 
Huron,  at  the  mouth  of  a  pretty  rivulet.  Maps  of  this 
"  city  **  had  been  scattered  far  and  wide,  and  lots  sold 
and  resold  at  fabulous  prices.  These  maps  represented 
a  large  and  flourishing  town  upon  a  magnificent  river. 
Piers  projected  into  the  harbor,  which  was  filled  with 
steam-boats,  and  it  was  evident  that  a  thriving  commerce 
had  begun.     I  visited  this  place,  during  a  coasting  voy- 


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age,  in  the  fall  of  1837.  The  only  approach  was  by  the 
lake,  for  it  was  far  removed  from  any  road  and  forty 
miles  from  the  nearest  inhabitant,  except  a  solitary  back- 
woodsman. A  large  boulder  rock  in  the  lake  marked  the 
'*  harbor.**  The  "  river  **  was  insufficient  for  the  entrance 
of  our  log  canoe.  An  unbroken  and  unsurveyed  forest 
covered  the  whole  site.  We  could  not  find  even  a  soli- 
tary ruin  standing  alone,  like  that  at  Heliopolis,  in  the 
Egyptian  desert,  to  mark  the  place  of  departed  grandeur. 

At  a  few  of  the  really  "  eligible  **  sites  thriving  villages 
have  since  sprung  up,  the  Government  having  aided  to 
build  harbors,  or  natural  advantages  existing.  But  most 
of  these  town  sites  still  retain  their  valuable  privileges 
unimproved,  and  their  owners  have  either  abandoned 
hope,  or  continue  to  pay  taxes  on  some  undivided  one- 
hundredth  part  of  a  fractional  **  forty,*'  purchased  at 
city  prices,  that  is  not  even  marketable  as  farming  land. 

The  financial  reverses  of  1838  were  followed  by  another 
calamity,  which  added  greatly  to  the  distress  of  the  set- 
tled population  of  the  State.  The  season  of  1839  proved 
very  sickly.  Among  the  permanent  improvements 
made  during  flush  times  were  numerous  mills,  almost 
every  one  of  which  formed  a  nucleus  for  a  settlement. 
No  labor  or  thought  had  been  bestowed  upon  clearing 
the  stumps  and  fallen  timber  from  the  mill  ponds,  and 
this  proved  a  formidable  source  of  malaria. 

In  the  fall  of  that  year  I  passed  through  many  hamlets; 
and  even  considerable  villages,  where  a  quarter  part  of 
the  population  were  down  with. fever  and  ague.  I  had 
often  to  ride  miles  beyond  my  intended  resting-place,  be- 
cause at  the  tavern  where  I  applied  the  family  were  too 
ill  to  wait  upon  me.  At  others  I  was  enabled  to  find 
supper  and  a  bed  for  myself,  but  had  to  seek  accommo- 


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dation  for  my  horse  where  I  could  find  it.  Having  my- 
self had  a  touch  of  the  ague,  I  carried  a  stock  of  quinine 
in  my  saddle-bags.  These  old-fashioned  appurtenances 
sometimes  caused  me  to  be  hailed  as  "  doctor."  On  one 
of  these  occasions,  finding  what  was  the  medicine  re- 
quired, I  did  not  hesitate  to  allow  the  mistake  to  go  un- 
corrected, made  the  professional  visit,  administered  the 
pills,  but,  undoctor-like,  departed  without  my  fee. 

Reaching  Monroe  late  one  evening,  I  anticipated  no 
difficulty  in  finding  comfortable  quarters,  for  this  place 
was,  in  name,  at  least,  a  city,  and  second  only  in  impor- 
tance to  Detroit.  As  I  entered  the  street,  I  overheard  a 
conversation,  in  which  occurred  the  not  very  comforting 
remark — **  Tom,  you  must  make  the  next  coffin  ;  I  have 
worked  myself  almost  to  death  at  it  the  last  week." 
Even  in  this  old  city  it  was  only  after  much  trouble  that 
I  succeeded  in  quartering  myself  in  one  place  and  my 
beast  in  another. 

Most  persons  only  laughed  at  those  who  were  so  un- 
fortunate as  to  be  seized  with  *' fever  and  ager,*' as  the 
popular  term  was  for  this  diresome  disease,  as  if  it  were 
matter  of  course  that  every  one  must  have  his  turn  at 
shaking  like  a  lamb's  tail.  The  rival  cities  of  Monroe 
and  Toledo  were  constantly  bantering  each  other  upon 
the  insalubrity  of  their  neighbor's  location.  But  this 
year  the  subject  was  one  almost  too  serious  for  joking. 
Who  has  not  noticed  that  we  are  often  most  inclined  to 
make  merry  when  we  have  greatest  cause  for  sadness? 
So  jokes  carried  the  day.  Saw-mills  were  spoken  of  as 
driven  by  fever-and-ague  power.  Villages  were  told  of 
where  the  church  bells  were  rung  every  half  hour  to 
mark  the  time  for  taking  the  inevitable  quinine.  On 
one  occasion,  a  traveller  is  said  to  have  entered   a  vil 


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lage  and  searched  in  vain  for  a  tavern.  He  found  the 
streets  deserted  and  grass-grown.  At  last  he  followed 
the  one  which  showed  the  most  marks  of  travel,  and  it 
led  him  to — the  graveyard. 

Since  that  period  a  great  change  has  taken  place  in 
the  salubriousness  of  the  country,  and,  though  intermit- 
tent diseases  continue  to  be  a  prevailing  type,  it  is  ac- 
knowledged that  Michigan  has  proved  to  be  as  healthy  a 
State  as  any  in  the  Union.  As  great  a  change  has  taken 
place  in  the  face  of  the  country.  The  fever  of  specula- 
tion over,  resident  land-owners  applied  tl;iemselves  dili- 
gently to  the  cultivation  of  the  soil.  New  settlers  con- 
tinued to  pour  in,  though  the  stream  was  in  part  diverted 
to  territory  nearer  the  setting  sun,  the  discovery  being 
made  that  Michigan  was  too  far  east  for  emigrants 
bound  westward,  ho !  The  mania  of  speculation  which 
had  been  considered  by  the  new  settlers  so  serious  a 
drawback,  proved  a  substantial  benefit,  from  the  numer- 
ous and  solid  improvements  it  brought  about  in  a  very 
brief  time,  that  would  otherwise  have  been  delayed  many 
years.  The  hard  times  continued  for  almost  a  decade. 
It  was  not  until  a  general  bankrupt  law  had  wiped  out 
the  load  of  debt  which  had  overwhelmed  a  great  part  of 
the  country,  and  the  sufferers,  taught  by  sad  experience, 
had  learned  to  pursue  business  in  safer  channels,  that  we 
date  the  return  of  substantial  as  well  as  universal  pros- 


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"  Les  Canadiens,  c'est-^-dire,  les  Creoles  du  Canada,  respirent  en  nais- 
sant  un  air  de  liberte,  qui  les  rend  fort  agreables  dans  le  commerce  de  la 
vie,  et  nulle  part  ailleurs  on  ne  parle  plus  purement  Notre  Langue.  On  ne 
remarque  m^me  ici  aucun  accent. 

"  On  ne  voit  point  en  ce  Pays  de  Personnes  riches,  et  c'est  bien  dom- 
mage,  car  on  y  aime  k  se  faire  honneur  de  son  bien,  and  Personne  presque 
ne  s' amuse  k  th^sauriser.  On  fait  bon  chere,  si  avec  cela  on  pent  avoir  de 
quoi  se  bien  mettre ;  sinon,  on  se  retranche  sur  la  table,  pour  etre  bien 
vltu.  Aussi  faut-il  avouer  que  les  ajustements  sont  bien  k  nos  Creoles. 
Tout  est  ici  de  belle  taille,  and  le  plus  [beau]  sang  du  Monde  dans  les 
deux  sexes;  I'esprit  enjoue,  les  manieres  douces  and  polies  sorit  com- 
munes k  tous;  et  la  rusticite,  soit  dans  la  langage,  soit  dans  les  fa9ons, 
n'est  pas  m$me  connue  dans  les  Campagnes  les  plus  ^cart^es." — Charle- 
voix, Histoire  de  la  NoHvelle  France,  1720. 


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Part  !• 

I  HAVE  undertaken  to  occupy  your  attention  with  a 
subject  in  the  details  of  which  general  history  is  very 
meagre,  namely,  the  character  and  habits  of  the  first 
colonists  of  Michigan. 

From  time  to  time  many  interesting  items  have  been 
given  to  the  public  by  noted  citizens,  including  some  **  to 
the  manor  born,"  but  they  are  mostly  of  fugitive  char- 
acter, or  are  buried  in  the  columns  of  old  newspapers. 

To  these  materials,  scanty  as  they  are,  I  am  aware  that 
I  can  add  but  little  that  is  valuable,  out  of  the  stores  of 
my  own  observation  and  research.  Yet  there  are  fields 
not  wholly  gleaned,  and  if  I  have  discovered  any  new 
grains  of  truth,  or  can  bind  the  scattered  materials  into 
an  acceptable  sheaf,  I  may  at  least  be  excused  from  fol- 
lowing where  others  have  so  worthily  led. 

Of  the  present  generation  how  few  appreciate  the 
character  of  the  people  who  laid  the  foundation  of  our 
beautiful  city ;  who  for  more  than  half  a  century  con- 
stituted the  sole  population  of  the  Territory  of  the  Lakes; 
and  whose  descendants,  whelmed  in  the  overflowing  tide 
of  Anglo-Saxons,  still  retain,  to  a  good  degree,  their  old 
tongue,  and  somewhat  of  their  ancient  customs.  But 
these  are  undergoing  a  rapid  change.  They  are  des- 
tined, at  no  distant  day,  to  be  absorbed  into  the  general 

*  Read  before  the  Detroit  Pioneer  Society,  1872,  and  published  in  the 
State  Pioneer  Collections. 



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element,  and  the  peculiar  features  which  characterized  the 
French  of  the  olden  times  will  soon  be  utterly  obliterated 
and  forgotten. 

Without  going  into  historical  detail,  which  would  lead 
into  too  wide  a  field,  I  propose  to  notice  some  facts  of  gen- 
eral application,  which  will  prepare  us  better  to  under- 
stand the  character  and  customs  of  those  who  claim  the 
honors  of  pioneers  in  the  settlement  of  Michigan. 

The  story  of  the  settlement  of  Canada  by  the  French  is 
full  of  stirring  incident,  of  marvellous  adventure, — of  life 
amid  deep  forests,  and  upon  the  vast  rivers  and  inland 
oceans  of  our  continent, — almost  as  wild  as  that  of  their 
savage  associates.  It  has  been  often  told,  and  nowhere 
with  more  fidelity  and  graphic  power  than  in  the  capti- 
vating pages  of  Parkman. 

English,  and  sometimes  American,  historians  are  not 
always  just  toward  the  race  who  first  peopled  the  terri- 
tories of  New  France.  They  notice  the  complete  subjec- 
tion and  willing  obedience  of  the  French  emigre  to  the 
home  government ;  his  recognition  of  the  Indian  claims, 
and  ready  affiliation  and  sympathy  with  the  savage 
tribes  ;  and  they  compare  with  these, — unfavorably  to  the 
Frenchman, — the  energy,  enterprise,  and  individual  inde- 
pendence which  brought  to  our  Atlantic  shores  the  New 
England  immigrants  ;  which  led  them  to  subdue  the  wil- 
derness, and  have  impressed  their  character  upon  the  insti- 
tutions and  fortune  of  these  United  States. 

The  flourishing  period  of  French  colonization  was  that 
of  the  long  and  brilliant  reign  of  Louis  XIV.  In  the 
home  country  it  was  an  age  of  corruption,  of  despotic  arro- 
gance in  the  high  places  of  the  kingdom,  and  of  unreason-  . 
ing  obedience  on  the  part  of  those  below.  No  successful 
clashing  had  occurred  between  the  ruling  and  the  ruled — 


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THE  OLD  REGIME.  1 1 1 

between  despotism  and  liberty — such  as  conspired  to  drive 
the  first  English  emigrants — pilgrims  from  arbitrary  power 
— to  the  wild  shores  of  the  New  England  in  America. 
Here,  thrown  upon  their  unaided  resources,  all  the  energy 
of  which  the  Anglo-Saxon  nature  is  capable  was  called 
forth  to  enable  them  to  establish  a  home  in  the  wilderness. 
They  struck  at  once  upon  the  source  of  an  enduring  pros- 
perity, the  culture  of  the  soil. 

While  New  France  was  the  cherished  care  of  the  Grand 
Monarque,  it  did  not  escape  the  corruptions  of  that  court 
and  age.  The  principles  which  lie  at  the  base  of  success- 
ful colonization  were  little  understood,  and  ill  applied. 
Glory  and  gain  to  France,  not  the  permanence  and  good 
of  the  colony,  were  the  objects  sought.  The  French  pio- 
neer came  with  a  purpose,  beyond  which  neither  he  nor 
his  Government  looked.  This  was  not — ^with  some  excep- 
tions— to  found  permanent  communities,  by  the  practice 
of  agriculture  and  the  arts,  but  to  establish  and  extend  the 
gainful  traffic  in  peltries.  The  first  French  settlers  were 
communities  of  fur  traders. 

To  the  profitable  traffic  in  furs  the  religious  zeal  of  the 
age  added  another  motive,  almost  equally  powerful,  the 
Christianizing  of  the  native  population.  This  was  an  aim 
which — with  all  their  religious  fervor — did  not  inspire  the 
emigrants  to  New  England.  Equally  intolerant  with  the 
Catholic  emigres,  but  without  their  enthusiasm,  they  gave 
feeble  encouragement  to  missions  among  the  heathen 
around  them.  In  the  eyes  of  most,  the  savages  were  a 
race  of  heretics,  to  whom  was  denied  alike  the  consola- 
tions of  the  Christian  faith  and  the  benefits  of  civilization. 
The  spirit  of  freedom  is  not  always  winged  with  charity. 

Strikingly  in  contrast  was  the  conduct  of  their  neigh- 
bors of  Canada,  in  the  genius  to  plan  and  the  courage  and 


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endurance  to  carry  out  the  most  toilsome  expeditions,  for 
founding  missions  in  the  wilderness.  Though  little  re- 
mains of  the  missions  established  by  the  Jesuits,  their 
long,  unremitting  and  solitary  labors,  and  severe  sufferings 
and  martyrdom,  have  written  their  names  in  glory!  His- 
tory has  nothing  brighter  on  her  records,  than  the  deeds 
of  these  Christian  heroes. 

"  The  order  of  the  Jesuit, 
In  rigid  compact  firmly  knit," 

is  inseparably  interwoven  with  the  fortunes  and  fate  of 
the  French  Empire  in  America.  Its  character  is  well  de- 
scribed in  the  following  graphic  lines,  from  the  poem 
*  Teuch  sa  Grondie,*  by  our  fellow-townsman,  the  presi- 
dent of  this  society, — Levi  Bishop : 

"  A  school  of  strictest  self-denial ; 
Obedient  unto  every  trial ; 
Invincible  and  calmly  bold, 
A  social  problem  to  unfold ; 
In  vigils  long ;  in  rigid  fast ; 
Beneath  the  scourge  in  penance  cast : 
With  constant,  never-failing  zeal 
That  all  the  woes  of  man  can  feel ; 
With  self-sustaining  fervor  blest. 
That  long  devotions  well  attest ; 
With  deep  enthusiastic  glow, 
That  blazes  on  the  polar  snow ; 
With  master  policy  refined. 
To  rule  the  world  of  human  kind ; 
In  closest  league  with  royal  state, 
Wide  conquest  to  accelerate ; 
With  grasp  of  universal  plan. 
Embracing  every  race  of  man : 
Such  was  the  order  shrewdly  sent. 
To  seize  the  western  continent." 

With  such  traits,  unhappily,  Jesuitism  did  not  confine 


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itself  to  the  Christianizing  of  the  Indians,  but  became  inti- 
mately associated  with  the  political  fortunes  of  the  coun- 
try, for  evil  as  well  as  good. 

In  the  genius  -of  discovery,  in  establishing  depots  for 
trade  and  forts  for  protection,  and  in  opening  to  the 
knowledge  of  civilized  man  a  world  vast  and  unknown, 
the  French,  too,  were  without  a  rival.  The  leading  spirits 
in  these  enterprises  would  have  been  men  of  mark  any- 
where. With  what  a  handful  of  men  they  invaded  the 
savage  wilderness!  How  indomitable  their  resolution. 
How  judicious  their  selections  of  sites  for  forts  and  towns. 
How  far-sighted  the  sagacity  with  which  they  secured  to 
France,  as  they  had  reason  to  believe,  a  mighty  Empire  in 
the  New  World ! 

The  great  body  of  the  colonists,  it  is  true,  were  of  the 
lower  orders,  uneducated  in  independence,  moral  or  polit- 
ical. Many  came  as  soldiers,  and  were  induced  to  remain 
as  settlers.  A  few  were  from  the  gentry ;  men  who 
claimed  an  ancestry,  and  had  names  of  which  even  yet 
their  descendants  are  proud.  No  convicts  were  sent  out, 
and  there  were  no  drones.  All  were  accustomed  to  seek, 
and  seldom  failed  to  find,  a  living  for  themselves. 

The  colonization  of  "  the  Detroit,'*  or  Straits  of  Lakes 
Erie  and  Huron,  dates  from  the  first  year  of  the  i8th  cent- 
ury, nearly  two  centuries  after  the  discoveries  of  Car- 
tier,  on  the  St.  Lawrence,  and  a  century  after  the  found- 
ing of  Quebec. 

The  object  of  Sieur  de  la  Motte  Cadillac,  in  the  settle- 
ment of  Detroit,  was  not  only  to  establish  a  military  post, 
which  should  overawe  the  natives,  check  the  advance  of 
the  English  and  Dutch,  and  secure  the  Indian  trade,  but 
to  found  an  agricultural  community,  and  obtain  a  perma- 
nent foothold  upon  the  soil.     It  was  a  step  further  into 


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the  wilderness  than  any  colony  had  yet  ventured.  It  was 
an  intrusion  into  the  stronghold  of  savage  tribes,  many 
of  whom  were  hostile  to  the  French,  and  in  the  interest  of 
their  enemies.  It  was  within  reach  of  the  English  settle- 
ments, with  which  an  eager  contest  had  commenced  for 
the  Indian  trade  of  the  lakes,  and  the  vast  country  to 
which  these  opened  the  gate. 

A  varied  fortune  awaited  the  new  colony.  From  the 
first  there  was  strong  opposition,  from  political  opponents 
of  the  measure,  and  personal  enemies  of  Cadillac,  among 
whom  the  Jesuits  were  conspicuous,  and  those  who  were 
interested  in  the  older  settlements.  Nor  was  it  easy  to 
distinguish  between  their  allies  and  their  foes  in  the  nu- 
merous tribes  whose  villages  crowded  closely  about  the 
fort,  and  who  beset  the  colony  on  all  sides.  No  less 
than  four  times,  the  destruction  of  the  fort  was  the  sub- 
ject of  conspiracies  and  machinations,  urged  on  by  rival 
interests ;  and  for  the  first  half  century  the  security  of  the 
peasantry  was  too  precarious  to  permit  extensive  or  suc- 
cessful agriculture. 

Hardly  had  the  settlers  begun  to  feel  secure  in  their 
possession,  when,  with  the  capitulation  of  Montreal  (1760), 
followed  the  downfall  of  the  Empire  of  France  in  the 
New  World,  and  the  transfer,  almost  without  warning  to 
its  inhabitants,  of  the  sovereignty  of  Canada  to  its  life- 
long enemy — the  English.  The  lilies  of  France  were 
never  to  float  again  triumphant  upon  these  waters. 

Thirty  years  later  saw  the  flag  of  England  lowered  to 
the  Stars  and  Stripes  of  its  rebel  colonies.  In  less  than 
two  decades  more  the  Cross  of  St.  George  resumed  its 
sway  over  this  region,  for  a  brief  period,  to  be  again,  for 
the  last  time,  succeeded  by  the  triumphant  banner  of  the 
new  republic. 


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Few  people,  and  no  portion  of  America,  had,  in  so  brief 
a  period,  experienced  so  many  and  singular  reverses. 
None  ever  accommodated  themselves  more  gracefully  to 
the  mutations  of  their  fate.  In  their  own  way  they  con- 
tinued to  prosper,  and  had  lined  the  banks  of  the  Detroit 
with  pleasant  homesteads. 

Little  more  than  the  third  of  a  century  has  passed 
since  the  writer's  first  acquaintance  with  the  region  which, 
not  many  years  before,  the  author  of  McFingal  had  de- 
scribed as, 

"  Where  Detroit  looks  out  amid  the  wood, 
Remote,  beside  the  dreary  solitude.*' 

Making  my  abode  in  the  country,  at  some  remove  from 
the  City  of  the  Straits, — then  boasting  its  5000  inhabitants, 
of  many  nationalities, — I  found  myself  amid  a  people 
mostly  French, — the  descendants  of  those  who  had  braved 
the  dangers  of  the  remote  wilderness,  in  following  the  for- 
tunes of  Cadillac. 

As  yet  the  inroads  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  had  but  little 
disturbed  the  quiet  river  settlements ;  but  a  day  of  change 
had  arrived,  which,  in  a  very  short  time,  was  destined  to 
destroy  this  old-time  character.  Since  that  day  the  Arca- 
dian simpHcity  and  content  that  had  so  long  continued  to 
prevail,  in  spite  of  contending  sovereignties,  has  yielded 
rapidly  to  the  restless  energy  of  the  invading  Yankee ;  as 
did  aforetime,  to  the  conquering  Briton,  the  dream  of 
French  Empire  in  the  New  World. 

While  the  colonists  on  the  Detroit  retained  many  of 
the  characteristics  of  their  countrymen  in  the  Old  World^ 
modifications  necessarily  took  place,  in  the  adaptation  to 
so  different  an  abode.  Taking  possession  of  a  vast  wil- 
derness, families  neither  gathered  into  hamlets,  as  is  the 
custom  of  the  peasantry  of  France,  nor  did  they  seek  an 


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independent  existence,  like  the  backwoodsmen  of  New- 
England  stock;  but  their  dwellings — each  on  its  own 
farm — were  in  such  close  proximity  as  almost  to  consti- 
tute a  continuous  village  for  many  miles  of  river  shore. 
Originally  motives  of  protection  against  the  savages,  and 
afterwards  those  of  social  intercourse,  led  to  this  near 

The  original  titles  to  these  lands  were  variously  derived. 
Of  those  below  the  city,  as  far  as  the  River  Rouge  (3 
miles),  three  are  from  grants  of  the  Marquis  du  Quesne, 
Governor-General  of  Louisiana  and  Canada — 1740;  ten 
from  Marquis  de  la  Jousire,  vested  with  like  powers — 
1750.  Ten  others  are  from  Indian  deeds  of  gift,  subse- 
quent to  the  occupancy  by  the  English — 1770  to  1780, — 
confirmed  by  the  British  commandant.  Few  of  the 
French  grants  actually  received  confirmation  of  the  King, 
although  this  was  required  by  the  Copciume  de  Paris,  which 
was  the  law  of  the  country.  Permits  to  occupy  were 
sometimes  granted  by  the  French  commandants.  These 
grants  and  rights  of  occupancy  were  confirmed  by  the 
United  States  Government,  early  in  the  present  century, 
through  a  commission  sitting  at  Detroit ;  and  upon  these, 
patents  were  issued.  The  tracts  thus  confirmed  vary  in 
width  from  two  to  five  arpents,  and  Were  about  eighty 
arpents  in  length.^ 

I  have  heard  old  habitants  say  they  could  shout  to 
each  other  from  their  door-steps.  And  this  mode  of 
telegraphic  message,  passing  rapidly  from  house  to  house, 
served  the  purpose  of  modern  methods,  in  case  of  ap- 
prehended danger,  and  even  for  social  converse. 

*  The  arpent  is  a  measure  of  length,  as  well  as  area.      It  is  a  square 
the  side  of  which  is  192  feet,  three  inches. 


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An  American  backwoodsman  thinks  settlements  crowd 
too  closely  upon  him — that  he  has  not  elbow-room  enough 
— if  a  neighbor  establishes  himself  within  a  mile  of  the 
spot  which  he  has  selected  for  his  hearth-stone.  A 
Frenchman  so  situated  would  die  of  ennui.  He  must 
have  facilities  for  regular  and  frequent  intercourse  with 
his  neighbors  ;  and,  as  roads  are  execrable  in  a  new 
country,  he  best  accomplishes  his  object  by  fixing  his 
habitations  upon  the  streams — highways  that  nature  has 
created.  The  canoe  is  his  carry-all,  in  which  he  and  his 
family  move  easily  to  and  from  even  distant  settlements. 
What  glorious  opportunities  for  the  gratification  of  these 
desires  was  presented  by  those  grand  highways  of  the 
New  World ! 

From  the  water  also  came  a  large  part  of  his  food ; 
for  fishing  and  trapping  were  more  favorite  employments 
than  agriculture.  The  object  of  the  first  settlers  being 
the  fur  trade  and  Indian  traflfic,  these  lakes  and  rivers 
supplied  a  natural  channel  through  which  those  opera- 
tions were  conducted. 

It  was  along  the  chain  of  the  mighty  lakes  and  rivers 
of  our  continent  that  France  sought  to  maintain  her 
foothold  in  America,  by  the  erection  of  forts  at  points 
widely  separated,  but  selected  with  wonderful  foresight. 
In  the  vicinity  of,  and  under  the  protection  of  these, 
were  the  early  settlements  made.  As  this  protection 
became  less  needed,  as  the  Indian  trade  declined,  or  was 
further  removed,  the  peasant  farmers  made  more  distant 
settlements.  They  retained,  however,  the  practice  of 
inhabiting  only  the  banks  of  streams  accessible  from  the 
great  lakes.  I  know  of  no  original  French  settlement 
which  is  not  so  situated. 

As  a  hunter  the  French  settler  had  none  of   the  re- 


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nown  of  the  American  backwoodsman,  but  to  his  skill 
in  trapping  the  great  fur  companies  of  Canada  owed  a 
large  part  of  the  smaller  peltries  that  were  so  considera- 
ble a  source  of  their  revenues. 

Like  the  beaver  and  muskrat,  the  Canadian  not  un- 
frequently  lived  almost  in  the  water  of  his  favorite 
streams  and  marshes,  and  built  his  cabin  in  a  spot  which 
could  be  approached  only  by  canoe.  The  dwellers  in 
habitations  so  little  superior  in  architecture  and  site  to 
the  houses  which  these  ingenious  little  architects  contrive 
for  their  accommodation  in  their  n^itive  marshes,  and 
denoting  so  little  degree  of  mental  advancement,  de- 
served the  soubriquet,  bestowed  upon  them  by  the  con- 
temptuous Yankee,  of  "  muskrat  Frenchmen.** 

We  have  seen  that  the  kind  of  enterprise  which  charac- 
terized the  French  emigre  was  very  different  from  that 
which  marked  the  Anglo-Saxon  settler ;  which  has  con- 
verted the  wilderness  into  fertile  fields,  and,  almost  in  a 
single  lifetime,  constituted  this  nation  one  of  the  for- 
midable powers  of  the  earth. 

After  more  than  a  century  of  settlement,  the  farms 
along  the  Straits  exhibited  only  a  narrow  strip  of  cultiva- 
tion. This  rarely  extended  half  a  mile  from  the  water's 
edge.  From  their  doors  the  family  had  a  view  of  the 
untrimmed  forest,  where  the  deer  roamed,  and  wild  beasts 
prowled  frequently  to  the  very  barn-yards. 

Even  this  limited  extent  of  field  received  very  imper- 
fect culture.  It  was  almost  never  manured,  and  so  little 
was  high  culture  understood  or  regarded,  that  instances 
are  well  known  where  farmers,  whose  manure  heaps  had 
accumulated  to  an  inconvenient  degree  about  their 
barns,  adopted  the  most  ready  means  of  relief,  by  carting 
the  incumbrance  on  to  the  ice  in  winter.     The  offensive 


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material  was  thus  washed  away  without  further  trouble, 
when  the  ice  broke  up  in  the  spring.  I  have  it  on  un- 
doubted authority,  that  in  sotne  cases  even  the  bams 
were  removed,  to  avoid  the  piles  that  had  accumulated  ! 

This  limited  agricultural  improvement  did  not  originate 
from  the  extreme  subdivision  of  the  land,  for  each  propri- 
etor possessed  acres  enough ;  though  his  farm,  in  its  pro- 
portion of  length  to  breadth,  bore  a  resemblance  to  his 

As  this  great  national  interest  flourished  so  little  under 
the  kind  of  encouragement  bestowed  by  the  French  Gov- 
ernment, it  may  be  curious  to  compare  the  terms  by 
which  grants  of  land  were  bestowed  by  the  commandants, 
with  the  tenure  by  which,  under  the  fostering  care  of  the 
present  Government,  each  householder  may  secure  a 
homestead.  One  runs  in  this  wise :  *  The  grantee  was 
bound  to  pay  a  rent  of  1$  livres  a  year,  in  peltries,  to  the 
crown  forever ;  to  assist  in  planting  a  May-pole,  on  each 
May-day,  before  the  door  of  the  mansion-house.  He 
was  forbidden  to  buy  or  sell  articles  of  merchandise,  car- 
ried to  or  from  Montreal,  through  servants,  clerks,  or  for- 
eigners ;  to  work  at  the  business  of  a  blacksmith ;  to  sell 
brandy  to  the  Indians,  or  to  mortgage  the  land  without 
consent  of  the  Government.  The  Crown  reserved  all  min- 
erals and  timber  for  military  purposes.  The  grantor  re- 
served the  right  of  hunting  rabbits,  partridges  and  pheas- 
ants. All  the  grain  raised  was  to  be  ground  at  the 
manor  windmill,  where  toll  was  to  be  given,  according  to 
the  x:ustom  of  Paris.  On  every  sale  of  land  a  tax  was 
levied,  and  the  Government  reserved  the  right  to  take 
precedence  of  any  buyer,  at  the  price  offered.*  Under 
so  many  restrictions  we  see  one  reason  why  agriculture, 
as  an  independent  pursuit,  should  not  flourish. 


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Having  spoken  so  disparagingly  of  French  agriculture, 
it  is  but  just  to  observe  that  the  Canadians  were  speedy 
to  adopt  the  superior  implements  and  modes  of  cultiva- 
tion used  by  the  Anglo-Saxon  settlers ;  and  the  present 
generation  see  little  difference  between  the  tools  and  the 
methods  belonging  to  the  one  or  the  other.  But  half  a 
century  ago  the  old  methods  were  still  practised. 

The  cart  was  the  universal  vehicle  for  farm  and  family 
use,  wagons  being  unknown.  The  plough  was  of  wood, 
except  the  share.  Its  long  beam  and  handles  extended 
ten  or  twelve  feet,  and  it  had  a  wooden  mould-board.     In 


front  were  two  wheels,  also  of  wood,  of  different  sizes  :  a 
small  one  to  run  on  the  unploughed  side,  and  a  larger  one 
in  the  furrow.  There  were  neither  chains  nor  whiffletree : 
oxen  were  fastened  by  a  pole,  which  had  a  hinged  attach- 
ment to  the  beam.  And  very  good,  though  shallow, 
ploughing  was  performed  by  this  rude  but  ingenious 

Both  oxen  and  horses  were  employed  in  the  various 
operations.  The  harness  was  very  simple,  and  con- 
structed of  ropes  or  withes  of  twisted  rawhide.  No  yoke 
was  used,  but  a  rope  of  the  kind  mentioned  was  passed 


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around  the  oxens'  horns,  and  they  pushed  with  their 
heads.  It  was  maintained  by  those  who  employed  this 
seemingly  singular  method,  that  it  was  the  most  natural 
and  effective,  and  gave  greater  freedom  of  action  to  the 
cattle.  Possibly  scientific  agriculturists  of  the  present 
day  may  get  a  useful  hint  from  the  simple  ideas  of  the 
olden  times. 

The  hoe  vidiS  a  very  heavy  iron  implement,  having  a  long 
shank.  It  was  the  same  that  was  used  by  the  Indians, 
after  the  introduction  of  iron  among  them.  The  latter 
never  ploughed,  and  were  ignorant  of  the  method  of 
laying  out  the  field,  in  parallel  rows;  hills  of  corn  being 
planted  without  regard  to  regularity,  though  at  tolerably 


uniform  distances ;  and  though  the  Frenchmen  used  the 
plough  effectively,  their  ordinary  mode  of  planting  com 
was  precisely  that  of  the  Indians. 

The  winter  carry-all  was  a  strong  but  narrow  box, 
placed  upon  runners,  which  spread  widely  and  were  iron- 
shod.  Sometimes  these  were  adorned  with  fancy  heads. 
The  thills,  which  were  of  hickory  or  ash,  were  so  fixed  as 
to  spring  outwardly,  and  when  the  horse  was  harnessed 
in,  the  ends  were  brought  together  and  tied.  The  strain, 
consequently,  prevented  any  rubbing  against  the  horse's 
sides,  and  allowed  a  large  liberty  of  action,  which  was  of 
great  service  to  their  keen  trotters  and  pacers.  It  was 
constructed  for  two  persons  only,  although  a  seat  for  a 


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third  was  sometimes  placed  in  front.  Horses  were  some- 
times driven  tandem. 

The  traineau  was  of  rougher  construction,  made  for 
work,  and  the  runners  did  not  spread. 

For  summer  pleasure-driving  a  few  had  the  calhhe. 
It  resembled  the  modern  chaise,  and  had  a  movable  fold- 
ing top. 

The  cart,  of  which  I  have  made  mention,  is  worthy 
of  commemoration.     It  was  the  common  vehicle  for  all 


classes,  and  even  in  the  city,  long  after  my  arrival  here, 
was  almost  the  only  kind  of  carriage.  It  was  a  light  two- 
wheeled  vehicle  of  the  ordinary  cart  construction,  and 
the  sides  were  protected  by  a  low  railing.  The  gentry 
sometimes  had  chairs  placed  within,  but  commonly  all 
rode  after  a  more  primitive  style,  with  a  buffalo  robe 
only  for  seat.  In  this  simple  mode  ladies  were  taken  to 
church,  to  parties  and  calls,  or  carted  over  the  mud 
wherever  the  roads  were  in  a  condition  unfit  for  dainty 
feet.     The  stiff  clay  soil  which  prevailed  along  the  only 


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road  was  often  almost  impassable  for  pedestrians.  There 
were  no  pavements,  nor  even  that  convenient  Western 
resource — plank  walks.  Nor  was  there  a  stone  crossing, 
nor  a  public  hack  in  the  city,  thirty  years  ago. 

Many  were  the  curious  scenes,  and  many  the  laughable 

" legends  store 

Of  strange  adventures,  happed  by — ^*' 

mud :  the  suffocation  of  dogs  ;  the  loss  of  shoes ;  the 
discomfiture  of  neat  gallants,  who  ventured  aid  to  the 
weaker  sex,  in  their  rash  attempts  to  cross  a  street.  Even 
those  who  were  so  fortunate  as  to  obtain  the  use  of  a  cart 


did  not  always  escape  the  danger  or  the  fun ;  for  some- 
times the  loosely-made  lynch-pin  gave  out,  when  the  liv- 
ing cargo  was  unceremoniously  dumped,  of  course  in  the 
very  deepest  puddles.  But  such  accidents  in  those  days 
were  a  subject  of  mirth  rather  than  of  chagrin.  The 
French  cart  was  an  article  of  real  convenience,  and  well 
adapted  to  the  wants  and  tastes  of  the  people  and  times. 
It  was  a  legitimate  descendant  of  the  cart  of  Normandy, 
where,  in  recent  times,  I  have  been  interested  to  see  it  in 
common  use,  of  precisely  similar  construction.  Among 
us  its  use  is  now  almost  confined  to  Canada.  But  now 
and  then  one  may  be  seen  on  the  American  side,  on  its 


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way  to  market,  with  fifty  pounds  of  hay,  or  a  quarter 
cord  of  wood,  drawn  by  a  shag  of  a  pony,  whose  back 
reaches  scarcely  above  the  thills,  and  a  little  weazen- 
faced  Frenchman  mounted  on  the  top. 

The  stock  of  the  French  farmer  consisted  almost  ex- 
clusively of  horses, — that  dwarfed,  hardy  race,  so  well 
known  as  Canadian  ponies.  These  roamed  at  large,  be- 
yond the  enclosures,  picking  up  an  independent  living  by 
browsing.  Even  in  the  winter  they  seldom  received  any 
but  a  stolen  aid  from  the  barns  or  stacks  of  their  owners. 
Each  pony  bore  its  master's  initials,  branded  upon  the 
shoulder,  and  was  caught  and  broken  to  the  bit  as  he 
happened  to  be  wanted.  Whether  these  horses  were  ob- 
tained originally  from  the  Indians  of  the  plains,  or  had 
any  relationship  with  the  Mexican  mustang,  seems  not  to 
be  determined.     They  were  peculiar  to  Canada. 

To  some  extent  this  mode  of  raising  horses  has  pre- 
vailed, even  down  to  present  times,  in  the  towns  adjacent 
to  Detroit,  where  the  French  are  still  a  large  element 
in  the  population.  They  receive  literally  no  care  what- 
ever, and  roam  in  bands,  scouring  along  the  roads  with 
the  speed  of  liberty,  and  often  making  night  hideous  with 
the  uproar.  The  following  lines  from  a  manuscript 
poem  by  Hon.  James  V.  Campbell  (I  hope  his  Honor 
will  pardon  the  theft),  thus  well  describes  these  nightly 
races  through  the  town : 

"  Unchecked,  with  flying  leap  and  bound, 
The  savage  courser  spurns  the  ground. 
No  venturous  horseman  leads  the  ranks, 
No  spur  has  galled  their  heaving  flanks, 
No  master's  hand  has  grasped  the  mane, 
No  champing  jaw  has  known  the  rein ; 
But  in  a  countless  host  they  press, 
Free  as  the  storm,  but  riderless  ; 


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Compact  as  when  an  army's  tramp 
Bears  down  upon  a  foeman's  camp  ; 
While  the  ground  trembles,  like  the  shore 
Where  foaming  lines  of  breakers  roar  1  '* 

That  the  Detroit  habitants  of  an  early  day  were  not 
altogether  open  to  the  reproach  of  being  neglectful  hus- 
bandmen, good  evidence  has  come  down  to  our  own 
times,  in  the  fine  orchards  of  apple,  pear,  and  cherry 
trees,  that  gave  beauty  and  value  to  nearly  every  farm. 

Our  view  of  Canadian  agriculture  would  be  incomplete 
indeed  without  a  particular  notice  of  these  old  orchards, 
which  are  so  distinguishing  a  feature  in  the  river  land- 
scape, and  in  which  the  Canadians  showed  such  com- 
mendable enterprise. 

Though  many  of  the  farms,  so  closely  crowded  along 
the  river  banks,  had  orchards  comprising  several  hundred 
of  these  fruit  trees,  and  few  were  entirely  destitute,  it  is 
singular  that  little  is  known  of  their  history.  In  answer 
to  inquiries,  old  people  will  tell,  that  their  ancestors 
obtained  the  trees  from  Montreal,  to  which  place  they 
were  brought,  at  a  still  earlier  day,  from  Normandy  or 
Provence;  but  they  have  no  knowledge  when,  or  from 
which.  The  prevailing  opinion  is,  that  th'e  seeds  were 
brought  from  France,  and  planted  as  soon  as  the  first 
permanent  settlements  were  made  on  the  Straits,  about  a 
century  and  a  half  ago.  The  present  generation  remem- 
ber well  the  days  of  their  boyhood,  passed  beneath  the 
shade  and  in  the  enjoyment  of  the  fruit  of  these  trees, 
which,  in  their  recollection,  were  even  then  of  great  size. 

Before  further  considering  the  mystery  of  their  origin, 
the  character  of  these  orchards  claims  our  attention. 
When  we  recognize  that  from  the  orchards  on  this  river 
have  originated  many  noted  kinds  of  apples,  still  exten- 


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sively  appreciated  throughout  the  Northern  States,  it 
will  be  apparent  that  they  contained  no  wild  or  common 
fruit.  From  hence  were  disseminated  the  famous  "  Cal- 
ville  '* — both  red  and  white  ;  the  "  Detroit  Red  " — Roseau 
of  the  French  ;  the  "  Pomme  de  neige/'  or  Fameuse — the 
celebrated  **Snow  Apple"  of  America;  all  fruits  that 
have  established  a  wide  reputation.  Besides  these  are 
several  not  so  well  known, — the  gray  apple,  russets,,  noted 
for  long  keeping ;  pearmains,  and  others.  Almost  every 
orchard  had  one  or  more  of  these  noted  kinds. 

As  cider  fruit,  these  apples  maintained  a  reputation 
long  after  the  influx  of  settlers  from  the  Eastern  States. 
In  this  respect  they  were  considered  to  surpass  the  apples 
of  New  England,  and  to  be  second  only  to  the  celebrated 
New  Jersey  product. 

Forty  years  ago  a  few  cider  mills  of  the  French  con- 
struction were  in  existence.  They  were  quite  unique. 
The  crusher  was  a  large  stone  or  wood  cylinder,  six  to 
eight  feet  diameter,  and  from  six  to  ten  inches  thickness. 
It  turned  on  a  wooden  axis,  fashioned  to  a  centre-post, 
and  was  carried  around  by  horse-power.  It  ran  in  a 
trough,  dug  out  of  a  large  tree,  and  put  together  by 
sections.  The  press  consisted  of  a  long  wooden  lever, 
acting  upon  a  platform,  and  held  down  by  tackling. 

But  the  crowning  glory  of  the  French  orchard  was  the 
pear  tree.  Nearly  every  homestead  possessed  one,  some 
two  or  three,  few  exceeded  a  half  dozen.  Such  was  its 
wonderful  size  and  productiveness,  that  one  specimen 
usually  amply  satisfied  the  wants  of  a  family. 

These  pear  trees  were,  and  still  are,  conspicuous  objects 
in  the  river  scenery,  and,  for  size,  vigor  and  productive- 
ness are  truly  remarkable.  A  bole  six  feet  in  girth,  and 
a  height   of  sixty  feet,  are  only  common  attainments. 


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Many  show  a  circumference  of  trunk  of  eight  to  nine  feet, 
and  rear  their  lofty  heads  seventy,  and  sometimes  eighty 
feet  from  the  earth  !  They  bear  uniform  crops,  thirty  to 
fifty  bushels  being  often  the  annual  product  of  a  single 
tree.  The  fruit  is  of  medium  size,  ripening  about  the  end 
of  August,  and  though  as  a  table  -fruit  superseded  by 
many  sorts  which  an  improved  horticulture  has  intro- 
duced, it  still  holds  a  fair  rank,  and  in  some  respects  is 
not  surpassed,  if  equalled,  by  any.  The  flesh  is  crisp, 
juicy,  sweet  and  spicy.  For  stewing  and  preserving  it  is 
quite  unrivalled.  Individual  trees  differ  a  little  in  their 
period  of  ripening,  and  in  size  and  flavor  of  fruit,  but  the 
variety  is  well  characterized. 

It  is  not  a  little  remarkable  that  so  little  should  be 
known  of  the  history  of  a  tree  of  such  extraordinary  char- 
acter. The  earliest  travellers  from  whom  we  have  pub- 
lished records,  such  as  Charlevoix,  Henry  and  Carver, 
make  none,  or  only  casual  mention,  and  give  no  clue  to 
their  date  and  origin.  The  memory  of  the  oldest  inhab- 
itant is  only  traditional  in  regard  to  them.  Along  the 
St.  Lawrence  and  about  Montreal,  whence  these  trees  are, 
by  some,  supposed  to  have  been  brought  to  Detroit,  no 
specimens  exist,  and  the  orchards  are  few  and  inferior. 
In  a  hasty  journey  across  Normandy,  I  saw  many  fine 
and  large  pear  trees,  but  I  looked  in  vain  for  any  of  the 
size  or  character  which  might  be  supposed  to  have  origin- 
ated the  Detroit  pear  tree. 

The  prevailing  opinion,  that  the  pear  and  apple  trees  of 
the  Canadas  originated  from  seeds  brought  from  France, 
is  founded  on  the  supposition  that  nursery  trees  could  not 
have  withstood  the  long  sea  voyage  of  that  period.  Yet 
this  opinion  cannot  be  accepted  without  hesitation.  It  is 
a  law  well  understood  by  fruit  culturists,  that  trees  raised 


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from  the  seed  of  these  fruits  tend  to  revert  to  their  origi- 
nal wild  state.  They  are,  with  rare  exceptions,  inferior 
to  the  cultivated  varieties,  and  besides,  are  of  almost  as 
many  different  sorts  as  the  seeds  which  produce  them. 
Neither  the  pear  nor  apple  trees  of  the  French  orchards 
have  the  character  of  seedlings ;  and  the  fact  that  almost 
every  orchard  contained  several  trees  of  the  same,  and  of 
well-known  kinds,  militates  against  that  supposition.  On 
the  other  hand,  it  is  improbable  that  they  are  seedlings 
raised  here  and  grafted.  For  the  art  was  then  little  prac- 
tised in  America,  and  not  at  all  among  the  Canadians. 

The  Detroit  pear  tree  is  found  also  on  the  River  Raisin, 
at  Monroe,  and,  so  far  as  I  am  informed,  exists  nowhere 
else  in  America.  The  trees  on  the  latter  stream  were 
planted  by  the  early  settlers  there,  many  years  after  the 
colonization  of  the  Straits.  In  1786,  Col.  Francis  Navarre, 
of  Monroe,  travelling  on  horseback  from  Detroit,  carried 
in  his  hand  six  or  more  trees,  which  he  planted  on  his 
farm.  They  attained  large  size,  and  are  still  bearing 
immense  crops.  One  of  these  is  said  to  measure,  at  two 
feet  from  the  ground,  nine  feet  two  inches  circumference, 
and  at  four  feet,  separates  into  two  branches,  one  of  which 
is  seven  feet  four  inches  and  the  other  five  feet  in  cir- 

We  have  ample  testimony  to  the  great  size  of  these 
giant  pear  trees  half  a  century  ago.  I  am  informed  by 
an  old  resident  that  in  181 2  or  181 3  he  saw  one  cut  down 
which  was  in  the  way  of  a  battery  that  was  being  built 
just  above  the  city,  and  which  measured  nearly  two  feet 
diameter  of  trunk.  Such  a  growth  could  hardly  have 
been  acquired  in  less  than  a  century. 

I  know  not  by  what  fatality,  but  our  old  French  pear 
trees  seem  destined  to  have  no  successors  to  their  fame,  as 


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though  unwilling  to  survive  the  Americanization  of  the 
race  who  nurtured  and  so  long  enjoyed  their  stately  mu- 
nificence. Appreciated  by  all,  no  one  has  thought  of 
continuing  the  species,  or  else  all  attempts  have  failed. 
No  young  trees  are  to  be  found  in  the  extensive  planta- 
tions of  the  present  century,  which  includes  so  many 
vastly  inferior.  None  of  the  nurseries  contain  it.  It  is 
even  yet  without  a  name  in  the  dictionary  of  American 
fruit  trees.  Still,  however,  the  pear  trees  flourish,  in  a 
green  old  age,  while  the  apple  orchards  are  fast  disappear- 
ing, partly  from  natural  decay,  but  more  perhaps  from 
neglect ;  while  many  are  annually  swept  from  existence 
by  the  relentless  besom  of  modern  improvement,'*' 

The  old  pear  tree  belongs  to  Detroit  and  her  old  habi- 
tants, and  will  perish  with  them,  and  with  their  home- 
steads, which  are  so  fast  disappearing.  Another  half 
century  will  see  the  last  of  those  magnificent  trees, 
— the  pride  of  the  French  orchard  ;  the  mammoth  of 
fruits, — of  which  the  world  does  not  afford  its  equal ! 

Having  given  this  imperfect  view  of  French  out-door 
occupation,  their  social  character  claims  our  attention  ; 
but  this  demands  a  separate  chapter. 

*  Since  the  above  was  written  many  of  the  pear  trees  begin  to  show  decay 
from  old  age,  and  are  now  in  dying  condition. 


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Fart  II. 

FROM  our  consideration  of  the  agriculture  of  the 
early  French  settlers  on  the  Detroit,  we  turn  natu- 
rally to  their  homesteads.  We  form  some  judgment  of  a 
people  from  the  houses  they  live  in. 

The  better  class  of  dwellings  of  the  French  habitants 
were  of  quite  a  substantial  character,  considered  as  mere 
timber  structures.  They  were  built  of  logs,  squared  and 
covered  \yith  clapboards,  and  the  roofs  shingled  with 
cedar.  They  were  of  one  or  two  stories,  according  to  the 
need  or  ability  of  the  owner,  but  were  never  ambitious. 
Generally  they  were  one  full  story,  the  upper,  or  half 
story,  being  chiefly  within  the  roof,  which  was  high,  and 
lighted  by  small  dormer  windows,  projecting  on  the  front 
and  rear  sides.  The  entrance  was  in  the  centre,  and  a 
hall  ran  from  front  to  rear.  A  low  and  perfectly  plain 
veranda  was  another  usual  feature. 

One  of  the  oldest  and  most  noted  structures  of  this 
class  was  the  **  Cass  house,"  which  had  been  used  by 
several  of  the  territorial  governors  of  Michigan,  and  ex- 
hibited many  marks  of  the  tomahawk  and  bullet,  received 
during  the  Indian  wars.  It  stood  on  the  Cass  farm,  and 
was  built  of  cedar  logs,  weather  boarded ;  about  fifty  feet 
front  and  one  story  in  height,  with  steep  roof.  A  heavy 
stone  chimney  rose  out  of  the  centre.  The  position, 
when  I  first  saw  it,  was-  very  beautiful.     It  was  upon  the 



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immediate  bank  of  the  river,  here  quite  abrupt  and  high, 
and  shadowed  with  trees.  No  wharf  or  building  ob- 
structed the  view,  which  commanded  many  miles  of  the 
river  channel  and  shores,  and  in  the  rear  were  smiling 
gardens,  and  green  slopes,  between  which  flowed  the 
little  river  "Savoyard,**  since  diverted  into  a  covered 
sewer.  This  old  mansion  is  still  a  comfortable  dwelling, 
or  dwellings,  on  Larned  Street.  It  stands  but  little  re- 
moved from  its  old  site,  but  in  front  and  in  rear  are 
stony  streets,  thickly  lined  with  houses.  It  is  remote 
from  the  present  border  of  the  river,  and  its  time-honored 
character  is  lost  in  new  boards  and  white  paint.  Its  age 
is  probably  not  less  than  1 50  years.^ 

Another  old  domicile  of  the  times  of  French  regime — 
the  Lafferty  house — stood  half  a  mile  below,  and  was 
torn  down  in  1861,  to  give  place  to  structures  better 
suited  to  the  wants  of  modern  times.  It  was  erected  in 
1747,  and  was,  at  the  time  of  its  destruction,  in  excellent 
preservation  ;  the  timbers  heavy  and  solid,  and  the  stone 
chimney  exhibiting  the  large,  open  fire-place  which 
marked  an  age  of  hospitality  and  good  cheer. 

The  Knaggs  house,  another  well-known  mansion,  was 
for  several  years  my  own  residence.  It  consists  of  two 
parts :  one  a  low  structure  of  a  single  story,  with  an  attic, 
and  containing  two  rooms  and  a  pantry.  It  is  of  un- 
known age,  and,  like  the  Cass  house,  bears  marks  of 
Indian  outrages.  The  other  portion  is  of  comparatively 
modern  date,  and  consists  of  three  considerable  rooms, 
separated  by  a  central  hall.  It  has  a  second  half-story, 
with  dormer  windows,  and  also  windows  in  the  gables, 
and  is  throughout  well  finished.     The  front  door  is  um- 

*  It  was  torn  down  in  1883,  and  the  site  occupied  by  brick  buildings. 


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braged  by  a  square  portico,  which  had  seats,  and  com- 
manded a  delightful  look-out  upon  the  river,  in  its  im- 
mediate front.  Both  parts  of  the  mansion  are  built  of 
squared  pine  timbers,  clapboarded.  The  newer  portion 
had,  when  I  took  possession,  a  coat  of  paint,  white  in 
front,  red  in  the  rear.  If  there  had  ever  been  paint  on 
the  older  portion  it  had  long  disappeared.  The  panes  of 
glass  throughout  all  the  windows  were  a  curiosity,  being 
of  a  size  entirely  disused  and  no  longer  sold  by  dealers, 
— six  and  a  half  by  seven  and  a  half  inches. 

I  will  allude  to  another,  and  one  of  the  few  French 
mansions  in  the  city, — the  old  "  Campau  house."  It  is 
built  upon  the  foundations  of  the  original  dwelling 
burned  down  by  the  fire,  which  consumed  the  entire  city 
in  1805.  Though  an  interesting  relic,  and  a  good  speci- 
men of  its  class,  it  belongs  to  the  present  century.  It 
will  give  a  good  idea  of  the  contrast  between  the  old 
town  and  the  new  to  state  that  the  avenue  of  120  feet 
wide,  upon  which  this  house  fronts,  corresponds  here 
with  the  old  St.  Ann  Street,  on  which  it  formerly  stood, 
but  which  (though  the  largest  street  of  Old  Detroit)  had 
a  width  of  only  30  feet.^ 

Few  such  memorials  of  the  "  good  old  days  **  now  re- 
main in  this  vicinity.  But  on  the  Canada  side  of  the 
channel  comparatively  little  change  has  taken  place  in 
the  appearance  and  condition  of  many  old  French  home- 
steads. The  village  of  Sandwich  wears  much  of  its  old- 
time  character,  and  a  dreamy  quiet  pervades  the  place, 
worthy  of  Sleepy  Hollow,  and  singularly  in  contrast  with 
the  bustling,  wide-awake  activity  which  distinguishes 
most  American  villages. 

*  This  mansion,  too,  has  disappeared,  having  (1885)  given  way  to  the 
demands  of  another  race  and  times, 


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Digitized  by  VjOOQIC 

MILLS.  135 

Most  French  dwellings  had  yards,  fenced  by  pickets  of 
red  cedar.  These  were  often  10  or  12  feet  in  height,  and 
were  intended  and  often  served  as  a  stockade  for  protec- 
tion during  the  troubles  of  the  war  times,  as  well  as 
against  wolves. 

Some  of  these  defences  were  standing  along  the  river, 
between  my  house  and  the  town,  as  late  as  1837,  ^"^ 
consisted  of  very  closely  set,  large  and  mostly  round 
posts,  which  were  generally  still  sound.  They  were  so 
deeply  sunk  that  the  axe  was  used  rather  than  the 
spade,  when  their  removal  became  expedient.  Few  if 
any  of  these  posts  can  now  be  seen  in  this  vicinity,  but 
the  stumps  of  many  still  remain,  as  landmarks  of  a  past 
age,  below  the  soil,  where  the  axe  has  left  them. 

Another  feature  of  the  old  settlements  has  disap- 
peared,— the  windmills^  which  once  marked  every  few 
miles  of  river  shore,  and  were  an  animating  part  of  its 
picturesque  scenery. 

These  institutions  of  primitive  times  were  in  full 
operation,  down  to  the  stirring  period  of  Yankee  im- 
provements,— (1836-37).  Until  then  there  were  no  flour- 
ing-mills  of  any  other  description  within  many  miles  ; 
though  we  have  the  authority  of  Judge  Campbell  for 
stating,  that  a  watermill  was  built  as  early  as  1734,  on 
May's  Creek,  below  the  city,  and  one  on  Mill  or  Conner's 
Creek,  above,  and  that  as  late  as  1830  one  was  standing 
in  ruins  upon  Bloody  Run,  where  it  is  crossed  by  Jefferson 

The  windmills  served  sufficiently  well  all  the  needs  of 
the  French  era  ;  but  with  the  advent  of  larger  Wcmts, 
more  capable  structures  were  demanded.  The  neglected 
windmills  fell  to  decay,  and  at  the  present  time  a  few 
only  survive,  in  ruins. 


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From  these  brief  notices  of  the  dwellings  of  the  French 
land-owners  it  will  doubtless,  and  with  truth,  be  con- 
cluded that  the  occupants  lived  in  reasonable  style  and 
comfort ;  and  that  the  personal  appearance  of  our  French 
progenitors  corresponded  to  the  simple  and  comfortable 
character  of  their  homesteads. 

The  gentleman's  dress  of  the  olden  time,  in  winter,  con- 


sisted  of  colored  shirt,  with  vest,  and  pantaloons  or  leg- 
gings. A  belt  or  sash  held  up  the  trousers,  and  over  all 
was  worn  a  capote,  or  heavy  blanket  coat,  with  a  sack  or 
loose  cap  attached,  that  was  thrown  back  or  over  the 
head,  as  required.  The  latter  extremity  was  bound  with 
a  colored  handkerchief,  while  the  lower  were  protected 
by  shoe-packs,  and  sometimes  by  moccasons. 


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On  dress  occasions  the  sash  was  richly  ornamented 
with  beads,  in  the  Indian  fashion,  and  sometimes  was  of 
wampum.  It  was  spread  widely  over  the  body,  outside 
the  coat,  and  tied  behind,  the  ends  hanging  down  two 
feet  or  more.  In  warm  weather,  pantaloons  were  worn 
without  vest,  and  were  sustained  by  a  belt,  generally  of 


leather.     The  feet  were  bare,  and  hats  of  straw  completed 
the  covering. 

The  voyageurs,  or  boatmen,  often  wore  shirts  over  the 
trowsers,  made  of  leather,  with  ruffles  in  the  bosom,  of 
the  same  material.  They  had  bright-colored  cloth  caps, 
which  hung  over  on  one  side  and  terminated  with  a 


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The  dress  of  the  women  consisted  of  short  gowns  or 
habits,  falling  no  lower  than  the  knee,  and  showing  the 
petticoats,  which  reached  to  the  feet;  and  they  had 
ample  straw  hats.  For  cold  weather  they  had  fur  hats 
or  bonnets.  They  received  the  fashions  from  Montreal, 
but  the  changes  were  so  slight,  that  probably  less  varia- 


tion  had  occurred  in  a  century  than  takes  place  in  the 
costume  of  our  modern  belles  in  a  single  year.  In  fact, 
the  costume  I  have  described  continued  almost  un- 
changed, from  the  earliest  period,  down  nearly  to  the 
time  of  my  own  personal  observation.  The  straw  hat 
maintains  its  repute  even  yet,  as  a  permanent  and  whole- 
some style  abroad,  its  merits  having  given  it  a  wide  adop- 


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tion ;  and  it  would  be  well  if,  in  other  particulars,  the  con- 
venient fashions  of  our  Canadian  dames  could  be  pre- 

The  French  people  continued  to  preserve,  down  to  a 
very  recent  date,  a  good  degree  of  their  ancient  character. 
There  was  much  of  the  **beau  monde"  at  the  rival  but 
neighborly  cities  of  Detroit  and  Monroe,  and  a  constant 


intercourse  was  kept  up,  until  the  preponderance  of  the 
former  city  and  the  overwhelming  influx  of  foreigners. 

Amusements  were  of  the  social  rather  than  literary 
kind,  and  the  social  virtues  never  shone  more  brightly 
among  any  people.  Nor  were  these  confined  to  their  own 
kini  but  were  extended  to  the  newly  come,  of  whatever 
nationality.     The  old  habitants  of  the  better  class  still 


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retain  a  vivid  recollection  of  those  happy  days,  and  will 
tell  that  no  people  ever  enjoyed  life  so  keenly. 

During  the  winter — which  comprised  nearly  half  the 
year — the  settlements  on  the  Detroit  and  River  Raisin 
were  almost  shut  out  from  the  Eastern  world.  River 
craft  were  all  laid  up  ;  railroads  were  not  in  being  ;  and 
travel  to  the  nearest  Eastern  cities  was  a  long  and  painful 
journey.  I  have  myself  known  Detroit  to  be  without  a 
New  York  mail  for  more  than  two  weeks  at  a  time,  and 
have  found  it  a  week's  journey,  travelling  by  ordinary 
stage,  day  and  night,  through  Canada  to  Buffalo.  This 
was  the  season  for  French  gayety  and  resource  to  display 
themselves.  No  aid  from  foreign  sources  was  needed 
to  make  the  winter  pass  pleasantly.  And  who  could 
surpass  the  French  for  parties,  balls  and  merry-mak- 
ings ! 

At  these  were  gathered,  especially,  the  young  of  both 
sexes,  who  kept  up,  until  a  late  hour  in  the  morning, 
that  fascinating  amusement  of  whose  saltatory  mazes  a 
Frenchman  never  tires ;  and  here  were  exchanged 
glances  from  those  lustrous  black  eyes,  so  suited  to  bru- 
nette complexions,  and  which  lighted  up  even  the  most 
ordinary  face,  like  native  diamonds,  sparkling  through 
their  rusty  covering.  And,  indeed,  the  demoiselles  were 
not  to  be  despised  for  graces  of  face  and  figure;  for 
though  the  men  mostly  had  long,  thin  visages,  scarcely 
in  keeping  with  their  fun-loving  propensities,  the  girls 
were  both  plump  and  handsome. 

During  the  period  of  depression  which  followed  the 
speculations  of  1836,  when  a  general  stagnation  and 
gloom  overspread  the  whole  land,  there  was  no  lack  of 
French  gayety.  In  the  winter  of  1841,  when  times  were 
at  their  worst,  this  was  manifested,  even  to  an  unusual 


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degree,  in  numerous  balls  and  other  social  gatherings. 
With  a  characteristic  tinge  of  superstition,  the  French 
considered  this  unusual  gayety  ominous  of  approaching 
war,  or  other  calamity,  and  that  they  were  impelled  to  it 
by  some  secret  and  uncontrollable  impulse.  Perhaps 
philosophy  may  find  a  more  reasonable  solution.  I  re- 
late the  fact  only. 

Sundays,  as  in  all  Roman  Catholic  countries,  were 
holidays,  and  were  improved  as  such  to  much  greater  ex- 
tent among  the  Canadians  of  half,  or  even  quarter  of  a 
century  ago,  than  now,  among  their  descendants.  Pos- 
sibly they  were  spent  quite  as  innocently,  though 
more  noise  and  hilarity  prevailed.  The  parents  and 
daughters  of  the  family  travelled  to  church  in  sober 
jog-trot  style  enough,  in  carts  drawn  by  a  single  pony. 
But  the  young  men  went  mounted  on  their  nags,  and 
returned  in  the  grand  style,  racing,  with  whoop  and 
hurrah ! 

In  winter  these  races  were  exchanged  for  trotting- 
matches  on  the  ice,  in  their  light,  home-made  carry-alls. 
Long  and  eager  were  the  contests  for  superior  speed  and 
skill.  No  docks  and  piers  then  interfered  with  this 
winter  use  of  the  river,  which  was  thus  improved,  from 
the  very  heart  of  the  city,  down  to  and  up  the  Rouge. 
Many  noted  trotters  and  pacers  are  still  to  be  found 
among  the  keen,  little,  rugged  breed  of  Canadian  horses. 
The  example  has  not  been  lost  upon  the  bloods  of  the 
modern  city,  famous  yet  for  fast  nags  and  fast  men. 

A  season  of  great  excitement  to  the  early  settlers  was 
that  of  the  white-fishing,  which  was  confined  to  the  late 
fall  months,  commencing  about  the  middle  of  October, 
and  continuing  until  very  cold  weather.  Seines  only 
were   used,   and   a   feature   in   the    river   landscape,   as 


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numerous  and  almost  as  atriking  as  the  windmills,  were 
the  reels,  the  platform  and  the  fish-houses  which  per- 
tained to  the  business. 

This  season  was  looked  forward  to  with  great  interest 
and  pleasure,  and  was  one  of  feasting  and  merriment,  for 
the  fish  were  as  abundant  and  cheap  as  the  flesh  was 
admirable  ;  and  for  cooking  these,  as  well  as  most  other 
natural  products  of  river  and  forest,  none  could  excel 
the  French.  Although  few  engaged  in  the  business — 
for  the  market  was  limited — almost  every  farm  front 
was  available.  And  truly  it  was  an  interesting  and  in- 
spiriting spectacle ; — the  boats  leaving  the  shore  with  the 
nets  coiled  on  the  stern,  as  the  men  pulled  up  the 
stream,  until,  reaching  the  channel  bank,  the  net  was 
dropped  and  the  boat  rowed  rapidly  back  to  the  land, — 
the  floats  following  in  a  graceful  curved  line  ;  while  often 
a  song  kept  time  to  the  oars.  Then  as  both  ends  were 
draWn  briskly  in,  to  see  the  beautifully  white  and  silvery 
bodies  glancing  through  the  water,  and  finally  tossed,  all 
glowing  and  active,  on  the  beach  !  White-fishing  is  still 
pursued  on  the  river,  but  the  old-fashioned  reel  is  to  be 
seen  in  but  one  place  within  the  limits  of  the  extended 
modern  city, — a  place  famous  still  for  its  fortunate 
ground, — the  Loranger  farm.* 

I  cannot  omit  to  mention  a  commendable  trait  in  the 
French  character, — their  early  and  sincere  attachment 
to  the  United  States,  and  her  republican  institutions. 
To  be  known  as  a  Frenchman  was  to  be  known  as  a 
patriot ;  and  in  the  times  which  tried  men's  souls — and 
few  parts  of  our  country  had  more  varied  and  bitter 
experience — the  Frenchman  was  always  our  reliable  and 

*  Now  for  many  years  docked  and  abandoned  to  business  uses. 


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active  ally ;  cool  and  unflinching  in  danger ;  shrewd  and 
watchful  when  caution  was  most  needed.  If  a  man  was 
wanted  for  a  dangerous  enterprise,  it  was  a  Frenchman 
who  was  chosen. 

Few  now  survive  of  the  old  habitants  who  were  inter- 
ested and  intelligent  witnesses  of  General  Hull's  sur- 
render of  the  fort  of  Detroit,  and  with  it  of  the  whole  ter- 
ritory of  the  North-west,  to  the  British  arms ;  and  the 
rapid  succession  of  events  has  almost  crowded  out  the 
recollection.  But  when  I  first  came  to  reside  here,  the 
feeling  of  indignation  was  still  fresh  and  warm,  though 
more  than  twenty  years  had  elapsed  since  that  event. 
And  it  would  have  been  a  vain  attempt  to  convince  one 
of  those  who  witnessed  and  entered  into  the  scenes  and 
feelings  of  those  times,  that  the  act  was  one  of  mere  tim- 
idity and  weakness,  and  not  of  downright  treason. 

Among  the  many  interesting  reminiscences  of  that 
period  which  have  been  collected  and  published  in  news- 
papers from  time  to  time  by  an  honored  citizen  and 
friend  (now,  alas!  departed — Judge  Witherell),  I  am 
pleased  to  find  honorable  mention  of  Captain  Whitte- 
more  Knaggs,  the  patentee  of  the  old  farm  to  whose 
proprietorship  I  had  the  honor  to  succeed.  As  the 
record  is  illustrative  of  my  theme,  I  make  no  apology 
for  copying  the  following  anecdote  of  my  predecessor 
in  the  now  peaceful  homestead  : 

*' Captain  Knaggs  was  a  firm  and  unflinching  patriot,  in 
times  when  patriotism  was  in  demand, — during  the  war  of 
1812.  He  was  one  of  the  Indian  interpreters  ;  spoke 
freely  six  or  seven  of  their  languages,  besides  the  English 
and  the  French,  and  possessed  great  influence  with 
several  warlike  tribes.  On  the  surrender  of  Detroit  to 
the  enemy  he  was,  by  the  British  commandant,  ordered 


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to  leave  the  country,  and  did  so,  of  course,  but  joined  the 
first  corps  of  our  army  that  advanced  towards  this  fron- 
tier. He  acted  as  guide  to  the  division  under  General 
Winchester,  and  was  at  the  fatal  and  bloody  defeat  of  our 
troops  at  the  Raisin.  The  British  Indians  discovered 
him  after  the  surrender,  and  determined  to  kill  him. 
There  happened  to  be  present,  among  the  enemy,,  an 
Indian  whom  Knaggs  had  often  befriended  in  former 
years ;  this  Indian  resolved  to  save  him  at  every  hazard, 
but  the  savages  would  not  listen  to  him  ;  they  were  not 
yet  fully  gorged  with  blood.  Nothing  daunted,  however, 
the  brave  red  warrior  placed  himself  between  Knaggs 
and  his  foes,  and  for  some  time  kept  them  off ;  they 
pressed  on,  however,  and,  as  a  last  resort,  the  brave  fellow 
seized  Knaggs  around  the  waist,  kept  his  own  body  be- 
tween him  and  the  enemy,  and  kept  whirling  around,  and 
so  prevented  the  oft-repeated  blows  of  the  tomahawk 
and  war-club  from  taking  effect  on  the  victim's  head,  until 
he  succeeded  in  getting  him  in  the  midst  of  a  number  of 
horses  that  were  harnessed  together.  Here  they  struck 
under  at  his  legs,  and  over  their  backs  at  his  head ;  he, 
however,  avoided  the  blows,  till  a  British  officer  interposed 
and  saved  him.  After  escaping  innumerable  dangers  and 
death,  from  the  white  and  red  warriors,  he  departed  this 
life  in  peace,  about  1827. 

"  On  the  day  of  the  surrender  of  this  post,  Knaggs'  dwell- 
ing was  sacked  by  the  savages ;  his  furniture  hewed  and 
hacked  to  pieces,  and  all  that  was  valuable  to  Indians 
was  carried  off.  Mr.  Knaggs  had  succeeded  in  saving  a 
few  blankets,  and  they  had  many  wilcj  ponies  in  the  bush. 
During  the  year  succeeding  the  surrender,  in  1812,  and 
while  Knaggs  was  yet  absent,  very  many  of  our  people, 
soldiers  and  citizens,  were  brought  in  as  prisoners  by  the 


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Indians,  from  the  frontiers  of  Ohio,  etc.  Poor  creatures 
were  they,  some  wounded,  many  sickly,  and  all  nearly 
naked,  bare-headed  and  barefooted,  the  personification 
of  misery  and  want, — compelled  to  follow  their  savage 
captors  around  the  streets,  and  to  sleep  on  the  bare 
ground,  in  their  smoky  and  filthy  tents,  or  under  the 
open  sky. 

"  The  compassion  of  our  citizens  was  deeply  excited,  and 
every  effort  was  made  in  the  power  of  a  plundered  and 
impoverished  people  to  ransom  the  suffering  captives. 
Mrs.  Knaggs,  among  others,  parted  with  horses,  blankets, 
and  nearly  everything  that  she  had  saved  from  the  pil- 
lage of  her  home,  to  purchase  the  freedom  of  the  pris- 

The  mother  of  Captain  Knaggs,  a  lady  eighty  years  of 
age,  was  compelled  to  /ide  from  Monroe  to  Detroit,  on 
a  traineau,  on  the  ice,  thinly  clad,  in  the  most  severe 
winter  weather.  When  asked  why  she  did  not  freeze, 
she  replied,  "  My  spunk  kept  me  warm." 

I  do  not  mean  to  say  that  there  were  no  exceptions  to 
patriotic  conduct  among  the  French.  During  the  war  of 
1812  there  were  some  who  were  suspected,  and  not  with- 
out reason,  of  giving  aid  and  comfort  to  the  enemy. 
These  excused  their  conduct  on  the  pretence  of  fear  of 
the  Indians,  who,  especially  after  the  defeat  at  the  Raisin, 
were  patrolling  the  country,  in  hostile  bands,  and  com- 
mitting many  savage  atrocities. 

James,  a  brother  of  Captain  Whittemore  Knaggs,  re- 
sided at  the  Raisin.  Some  of  his  neighbors  were  strongly 
suspected  of  favoring  the  British,  if  not  of  consorting 
with  them  and  their  Indian  allies.  Against  these  the 
indignation  of  James  was  aroused,  and  he  did  not  hesi- 
tate at  open  accusation.     A  Mr.  Lasselle  was  one  of  the 


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supposed  culprits,  and  though  he  declared  that  his  adhe- 
sion to  the  enemy  was  only  feigned,  for  the  protection  of 
his  family,  James  Knaggs  would  by  no  means  admit  the 
justice  of  his  plea.  Meeting  him  some  time  after  the 
massacre,  Lasselle  offered  his  hand,  which  Knaggs  scorn- 
fully refused,  saying,  **  I  don't  shake  hands  with  traitors.*' 

James  was  at  the  battle  of  the  Thames.  He  saw 
the  shot  fired  by  which  Tecumseh  was  killed,  and  was 
one  of  two  Frenchmen  who  brought  off  Colonel  Johnson, 
wounded,  from  the  field. 

Among  a  people  so  circumstanced  as  were  the  early 
settlers  on  these  Straits,  it  may  be  imagined  that  schools 
did  not  receive  a  large  degree  of  patronage.  Few  chil- 
dren learned  to  read  and  write ;  but  the  catechism  was 
taught  by  the  priests,  and  the  pious  art  of  telling  their 

At  every  few  miles  was  to  be  seen  the  little  chapel, 
surmounted  by  bell  and  cross,  and  sometimes  a  tin 
cock  ;  and  in  the  open  space  in  front  was  often  erected 
a  tall  wooden  cross,  which  on  Corpus  Christi  and  other 
festival  days  was  crowned  with  flowers,  and  became  the 
goal  of  a  long  procession  of  the  young  people. 

But,  though  good  Catholics,  the  Canadians  were  not 
bigots.  Their  religion  was  simple  as  their  tastes,  and 
suited  to  the  light-hearted  gayety  that  was  so  promi- 
nent a  characteristic.  I  speak  in  the  past  tense,  because 
within  the  last  quarter  of  a  century  many  changes  have 
taken  place,  mainly  through  the  disturbing  elements  that 
have  poured  in  around  them. 

In  spite  of  defective  education,  such  is  the  native 
force  of  the  French  character  that  I  have  known,  among 
the  present  generation,  many  a  hard-working  and  success- 

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ful  farmer,  and  an  industrious  and  really  accomplished 
mechanic,  not  one  of  whom  could  read  or  write. 

I  should  do  injustice  also  to  the  merits  of  our  old  hab- 
itants if  the  conclusion  was  left  to  be  drawn  from  the 
above  observations,  that  neglect  of  education  was  uni- 
versal. This  was  not  the  case.  There  were  schools  at 
Detroit,  besides  the  Sunday-schools,  in  the  olden  times ; 
and  the  labors  of  good  Father  Richard,  in  this  direction, 
were  appreciated,  and  are  well  remembered  by  many  still 
living  among  us. 

The  very  Rev.  Gabriel  Richard,  for  many  years  a  priest 
in  this  community,  had  the  entire  respect,  confidence  and 
affection  of  the  whole  people,  and  was  the  first  represent- 
ative to  Congress  from  the  Territory  of  Michigan.  At 
the  commencement  of  the  present  century  there  were 
schools  under  his  encouragement,  if  not  due  to  his  efforts, 
not  only  in  the  town  of  Detroit,  but  at  Grand  Marais, 
at  Springwells,  and  at  the  River  Huron.  At  "  Spring 
Hill  ** — a  mile  below  the  town — P^re  Richard  had  estab- 
lished, not  only  an  academy,  but  a  printing-press.  It 
was  the  first  one  that  was  set  up  in  the  territory,  and 
here  was  published  the  first  book  printed  in  the  North- 

In  regard  to  these  schools,  the  following  pertinent 
facts  are  gathered  from  a  quaint  memorial,  addressed  by 
the  reverend  father  to  the  then  legislative  authority  of 
Michigan.     It  bears  date  Oct.  18,  N.  S.,  1808. 

We  learn  from  it,  that  "  three  of  these  schools  are 
kept  by  the  natives  of  the  country,  of  whom  tow  \sic\ 
under  the  direction  of  the  subscriber,  have  learned  the 
first  rudiments  of  English .  and  Latin  languages,  and 
some  principles  of  Algebra  and  Geometry,  so  far  as  to  the 
measurement  of  the  figures  engraved  on  the  tomb  of  the 


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immortal  Archimides/'  Also,  that  in  the  Academy  at 
Detroit  "  there  are  better  than  thirty  young  girls  who  are 
taught,  as  at  Spring  Hill,  reading,  writing,  arithmetic, 
knitting,  sewing,  spinning,  etc.  In  these  two  schools 
there  are  already  three  dozen  of  spinning-wheels  and 
one  loom,  on  which  four  pieces  of  linen  or  woollen  cloth 
have  been  made  this  last  spring  or  summer.'*  I  note 
this  for  the  benefit  of  modern  schools  for  young  ladies, 
where  the  piano  is  so  often  thumped.  It  is  pleasant  to 
know  that  the  ears  of  our  neighbors  of  a  century  ago 
were  more  agreeably  entertained  with  the  music  of  the 

At  this  same  Academy  of  Spring  Hill — the  memorial- 
ist goes  on  to  say — "the  number  of  the  scholars  has 
been  augmented  by  four  young  Indians,  headed  by  an 
old  matron,  their  grandmother,  of  the.  Pottawatamies 
tribe.  Five  or  six  more  are  expected  to  arrive  every 

We  are  also  told,  that  "  to  encourage  the  young 
Students  by  the  allowment  of  pleasure  and  amusement,*' 
he  had  sent  "  orders  to  New  York  for  a  spinning-machine 
of  about  one  hundred  spindles,  an  air-pump,  an  electrical 
apparatus,  etc.,*'  and  "a  few  colors  for  dyeing  the  stuff 
already  made  or  to  be  made  in  his  Academy.*'  Take 
note  of  that,  ye  modern  educators,  who  are  in  pursuit 
of  sources  of  '*  pleasure  and  amusement "  for  the  young 
people !  V 

As  a  further  memento  of  those  times  I  add — verbatim 
et  literatim — the  concluding  appeal  of  the  Memorialist, 
asking  that  "  for  the  encouragement  of  Litterature  & 
Useful  arts,  to  be  taught  in  the  same  Academies,  one  of 
the  4  Lotteries  authorised  by  the  Hon.  Leg.  on  the 
9th    of  7ber,   1806,    may   be    left   to   the  management 


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of  the  subscriber,  on  conditions  that  may  appear  just 
&  reasonable  to  the  Board.'* 

A  word  about  the  language  used  by  the  French  Cana- 
dian. It  is  generally  believed  that  this  has  become  so 
corrupted  from  the  pure  Parisian  as  to  constitute  a 
patois,  so  abominable  as  to  be  with  difficulty  understood 
by  one  skilled  in  the  standard  tongue  of  the  Academy. 
The  truth  is,  this  so-called /^/^/.y  is  the  old  French  tongue, 
continued  almost  unchanged,  like  the  manners  and 
habits  of  those  who  use  it ;  while  the  language  of  culti- 
vated France  has  undergone  many  modifications. 

It  is  satisfactory  to  find  these  observations  upon  the 
French  character  confirmed  by  an  early  authority. 
Charlevoix,  who  was  at  Quebec  in  1720,  says:  **The 
Creoles  of  Canada  draw  in  with  their  native  breath  an  air 
of  freedom,  which  renders  them  very  agreeable  in  the 
commerce  of  life.  And  nowhere  in  the  world  is  our  lan- 
guage spoken  in  greater  purity.  There  is  not  even  the 
smallest  foreign  accent  in  their  pronunciation."  He 
describes  them  also,  as  "  gay  and  sprightly,  rusticity 
being  unknown,  even  in  the  remotest  parts.** 

I  have  alluded  to  one  trait,  in  which  the  French 
emigres  differed  widely  from  the  English  and  Spanish 
settlers  in  America, — their  friendliness  towards  the  abo- 
riginal inhabitants.  This  kindly  disposition  was  appre- 
ciated by  the  Indians;  so  that  the  two  races,  whenever 
they  fairly  understood  each  other,  lived  in  peace 

I  am  not  aware  that  intermarriages  were  very  frequent, 
or  that  this  relationship  was  often  entered  into  by  the 
peasantry  of  this  part  of  Canada.  It  was  common 
enough  at  the  remoter  posts,  down  even  to  times  with- 
in my  personal  knowledge.     The  Indian  trader,  whether. 


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Frenchman,  Scotsman  or  Yankee,  prompted  partly  by 
interest,  usually  took  to  himself  an  Indian  wife.  At 
such  places  as  Mackinaw  and  Sault  Ste.  Marie,  half-breeds 
were  quite  numerous,  as  they  had  been  at  Detroit  at  an 
earlier  day.  The  class  known  as  voyageurs — the  cour- 
eurs  de  bois  of  the  older  times — had  become,  to  a  very 
considerable  extent,  of  mixed  blood.  The  licentious 
lawlessness  of  those  wild-wood  rangers  was  not  only 
well-known,  but  was  a  subject  of  much  complaint  at  a 
very  early  day.  Certain  it  is,  that  in  many  points  there 
was  greater  assimilation  between  the  natives  and  the 
people  from  France,  than  was  the  case  with  the  emi- 
grants  from  any  other  civilized  country. 

In  several  excursions  which  I  made,  between  1836  and 
1840,  in  the  wilderness  portions  of  Michigan,  and  along 
the  large  streams  and  channels,  it  was  not  uncommon  to 
find  the  solitary  lodge  of  a  Frenchman,  with  his  squaw 
wife,  and  sometimes  two  wives,  and  a  troop  of  half- 
breed  children.  They  lived  more  like  Indians  than 
white  people,  associated  chiefly  with  them,  and  de- 
pended upon  fishing. 

The  class  of  men  known  as  coureurs  de  bois,  or  voya- 
geurs, was  extinct  at  Detroit  some  time  before  my  ac- 
quaintance began  with  the  country  and  people.  But  at 
Mackinac  and  .on  Lake  Superior  these  found  some- 
'what  of  their  old  employment,  and  retained  a  good 
degree  of  their  ancient  character.  They  manned  the 
"  Mackinac  barge  **  and  the  canoes  of  the  fur  traders 
that  still  plied  along  the  northern  waters  of  the  Hud- 
son's Bay  Company. 

A  wild-looking  set  were  these  rangers  of  the  woods 
and  waters  !  The  weirdness  was  often  enhanced  by  the 
dash  of  Indian   blood.     Picturesque,  too,  they  were,  in 

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their  red  flannel  or  leather  shirts,  and  cloth  caps  of  some 
gay  color,  finished  to  a  point,  which  hung  over  on  one 
side,  with  a  depending  tassel. 

They  had  a  genuine  love  for  this  occupation,  and 
muscles  that  seemed  never  to  tire  at  the  paddle  and 
oar.  From  dawn  to  sunset,  with  only  a  short  interval, 
and  sometimes  no  midday  rest,  they  would  ply  these 
implements,  causing  the  canoe  or  barge  to  fly  through 
the  water  like  a  thing  of  life ;  but  often  contending 
against  head-winds,  and  gaining  but  little  progress  in  a 
day's  rowing.  But  how  sweet  was  the  rest,  when  a  favor- 
ing breeze  sprung  up,  enabling  the  little  craft  to  carry 
sail.  Then  in  came  the  oars,  and  down  lopped  each 
mother's  son,  and  in  a  few  minutes  was  in  the  enjoy- 
ment of  a  sound  snooze. 

The  morning  and  evening  meal  consisted,  almost  in- 
variably, and  from  choice,  of  bouillon^ — a  soup  made 
from  beans,  peas,  or  hulled  corn,  with  a  piece  of  pork 
boiled  in  it,  and  hard-bread  or  sea-biscuit.  To  the 
Northern  voyageurs,  rations  were  generally  served  out 
of  one  quart  of  hulled  corn  and  half  a  pint  of  bear's 
grease  or  oil,  this  being  the  daily  and  only  food.  The 
traveller,  Henry,  says  (1776) :  **  A  bushel  of  hulled  corn 
with  two  pounds  of  fat  is  reckoned  to  be  a  month's  subsist- 
ence. No  other  allowance  is  made,  of  any  kind,  not 
even  salt,  and  bread  is  never  thought  of.  The  difficulty 
which  would  belong  to  an  attempt  to  reconcile  any 
other  men  than  Canadians  to  this  fare  seems  to  secure 
to  them  and  their  employees  the  monopoly  of  the  fur- 
trade."  As  late  as  the  end  of  the  last  century,  Detroit 
was  one  of  the  principal  depots  for  provisions,  and  fitting 
out  for  the  Indian  trade  ;  and  here,  particularly,  the  corn 
was  prepared,  hulled,  boiled,  and  mixed  with  fat,  for  the 


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After  supper,  pipes  were  lighted,  and,  seated  on  logs 
or  squatted  around  the  camp-fire,  they  chatted  until  bed- 
time. This  came  early  and  required  little  preparation. 
To  wrap  a  blanket  around  the  person,  placing  coat  or 
shoe-packs  beneath  the  head,  and  a  little  greasy  pillow — 
the  only  bed  that  was  carried — constituted  the  whole 
ceremony  ;  and  speedy  and  sound  was  the  sleep,  beneath 
the  watchful  stars. 

The  labor  of  the  oar  was  relieved  by  songs,  to  which 
each  stroke  kept  time,  with  added  vigor.  The  poet 
Moore  has  well  caught  the  spirit  of  the  voyageurs'  me- 
lodious chant,  in  his  **  Boat-Song  upon  the  St.  Law- 
rence." But  to  appreciate  its  wild  sweetness  one  should 
listen  to  the  melody,  as  it  wings  its  way  over  the 
waters,  softened  by  distance,  yet  every  measured  ca- 
dence falling  distinct  upon  the  ear. 

These  songs  are  usually  half  ballad  or  ditty,  and  love, 
of  course,  the  main  theme.  They  express  the  natural 
feelings  of  a  people  little  governed  by  the  restraints  of 
civilization.  Here  is  a  specimen,  which  I  have  pre- 
served. The  words  were  sung  by  one  of  our  party,  and 
all  joined  in  the  chorus. 


La  jeune  Sophie  Mais  ce  vous  etre  belle, 

Chantait  I'autre  jour,  Ce  n*est  pas  de  jour  ; 

Son  echo  lui  repet^,  Ce  n'est  que  vos  yeaux 

Que  non  pas  d'amour  Qui  bris  ^  la  chandelle. 

N'est  pas  de  bon  jour.  Mais  ce  v.ous,  etc. 

Je  suis  jeune  et  belle,  Unisons  ensemble, — 

Je  vieux  m^  engage  Son  cour  et  le  mien, — 

Un  amant  fidele,  Pourquoi  tant  le  defendre, 

Je  suis  jeune,  etc.  Puis  quMl  s'amaient  bien  ? 

Unisons,  etc. 

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BOAT-SONGS,  1 53 

'                      Point  temps  de  badinage,  La  jeune  Sophie, 

'                          Envers  mon  amant,  Chantant  T  autre  jour,  etc. 

f                      Car  il  est  jaloux :  [Repeat] 
Tout  lui  port  embrage. 
Point  temps,  etc. 

Sometimes  the  bon  vivant  is  predominant,  as  in  the 

following  rude  song : 

Mon  pere  a  fait  bati  maison, 
^  Ha,  ha,  ha,  frit  \  Thuile, 

Sont  trois  charpentiers  qui  1^  font, 

Fritaine,  friton,  fritou,  poilon, 

Ha,  ha,  ha,  frit  ^  I'huile, 

Frit  au  beurre  i  I'ognon. 

Sont  trois  charpentiers  qui  la  font, 

Ha,  ha,  ha,  frit  a  Thuile, 
Qu*  apporte  tu  dans  ton  giron  ? 

Fritaine,  friton,  fritou,  poilon. 
Ha,  ha,  ha,  frit  ^  Thuile. 

Qu*  apporte  tu  dans  ton  giron  ? 
,  Ha,  ha,  ha,  frit  i  Thuile, 

C'est  un  pit^  de  trois  pigeons, 
Fritaine,  friton,  fritou,  poilon. 
Ha,  ha,  ha,  etc. 

^  C'est  un  p&t^  de  trois  pigeons, 

Ha,  ha,  ha,  frit  k  Thuile, 
Assieds-toi  et  le  mangeons, 
I  Fritaine,  friton,  fritou,  poilon, 

Ha,  ha,  ha,  frit  i  Thuile, 
Frit  au  beurre  et  ^  Tognon,  etc.,  etc. 

^  These    boat-songs   were  often  heard   upon  our  river, 

and  were  very  plaintive.  In  the  calm  of  evening,  when 
sounds  are  heard  with  greater  distinctness,  and  the 
harsher  notes  are  toned  down  and  absorbed  in  the  pre- 
vailing melody,  it  was  sweet,  from  my  vine-mantled 
'  porch,  to  hear  the  blended  sounds  of  song  and  oar, 

•  "  By  distance  mellowed,  o*er  the  waters  sweep." 


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To  my  half-dreaming  fancy,  at  such  times,  they  have  as- 
sumed a  poetic,  if  not  a  supernatural  character,  wafting 
me  into  elf-land,  on  wings  of  linked  sweetness. 

"  Some  spirit  of  the  air  has  waked  the  string ; 
'Tis  now  a  seraph  bold,  with  touch  of  fire, 
And  now  the  brush  of  fancy's  frolic  wing." 

At  Other  times  these  sounds  harmonize  with  scenes 
that  are  still  more  inspiring.  Seldom  have  I  witnessed 
a  more  animating  spectacle  than  that  of  a  large  canoe, 
belonging  to  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company,  manned  by  a 
dozen  voyageurs, — the  company's  agents  seated  in  the 
centre, — ^propelled  with  magic  velocity,  as  if  instinct 
with  life,  every  paddle  keeping  time  to  the  chorus  that 
rang  far  and  wide  over  the  waters ! 

But  times  have  changed,  and  with  them  have  passed 
from  our  midst  the  voyageur  and  his  song.  French 
gayety  is  rapidly  ebbing  into  more  sober  channels. 
Even  the  priests  have  set  their  faces  against  balls  and 
merry-makings ! 

As  I  call  up  these  reminiscences,  with  the  same  noble 
river  in  my  view,  I  listen  in  vain  for  the  melodies  which 
were  once  the  prelude  to  many  joyous  hours  of  early 
manhood.  But  instead,  my  ear  is  larumed  by  the 
shriek  of  the  steam  whistle  and  the  laborious  snort  of 
the  propeller. 

All  announce  that  on  these  shores  and  waters  the  age 
of  the  practical,  hard-working,  money-getting  Yankee^s 
upon  us ;  and  that  the  careless,  laughter-loving  French- 
man's day  is  over! 

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On  the  1 2th  August,  1879,  at  Grosse  Pointe,  where  the  Lake  Ste.  Claire 
begins  to  narrow  into  the  Straits,  or  River  Detroit,  a  celebration  took  place. 
The  occasion  was  the  Second  Centennial  anniversary  of  the  discovery  of  the 
lake,  and  the  bestowal  of  its  name,  by  Robert  Cavelier,  Sieurde  la  Salle, 
commander  of  the  "Griffin,"  the  first  sailing  vessel  that  ascended  the  lakes. 

The  programme  of  the  exercises  contained  a  wood-cut  of  the  "  Griffin," 
from  a  sketch  by  his  Honor,  Judge  James  V.  Campbell,  and  an  announce- 
ment as  follows : 

Regatta,  with  Aquatic  sports ;  Music ;  Prayer  by  Father  De  Brouex,  in 
French ;  Historical  Address,  by  Bela  Hubbard ;  Song,  "  Men  of  ye  Olden 
Time,"  by  D.  B.  Duffield,  Esq. ;  Poem,  "  Legend  of  L'Anse  Creuse,"  by 
Hon.  J.  V.  Campbell ;  Brief  Addresses ;  Music ;  Fireworks. 

All  which  came  off  duly  and  pleasantly,  under  the  skilful  leadership  of 
Hon.  G.  V.  N.  Lothrop,  president  of  the  day. 

The  Address  was  as  follows : 


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IT  IS  good  for  us  to  look  back  into  the  past.  The 
custom  of  celebrating  the  anniversaries  of  events  that 
have  had  important  influence  upon  a  nation's  history, 
or  the  welfare  of  mankind,  is  justly  honored  in  the  ob- 
servance. That  which  we  are  met  to  commemorate  has 
remained  unhonored  for  200  years.  Yet  two  centuries 
ago  to-day  occurred  an  event  which  has  mightily  in- 
fluenced the  destinies  of  our  race  and  proved  an  epoch 
in  the  history  of  this  continent !  It  was  the  launching  at 
Niagara  and  the  arrival  at  this  Point  of  a  little  vessel — 
not  so  large  as  many  of  our  pleasure  yachts — but  the 
precursor  of  a  long  line  of  craft,  of  every  size  and  char- 
acter, which,  passing  through  these  waters,  has  swollen 
into  a  commerce  that  has  become  the  wonder  of  the 

I  have  undertaken  to  relate  the  story  of  this  achieve- 
ment and  of  the  naming  of  Lake  Ste.  Claire,  in  the 
default  of  those  whose  superior  local  knowledge  and 
research  would  have  entertained  us  with  **  Outlines'*  of 
far  greater  interest  and  value.  I  propose  to  engraft 
upon  the  story  of  the  "  Grifiin  '*  some  memories  of  the 
extraordinary  man  with  whom  the  conception  originated. 

Of  all  whose  names  are  associated  with  enterprise  and 
discovery  in  New  France,  the  Sieur  de  la  Salle  is  the 
most  illustrious.  The  history  of  his  various  undertak- 
ings  is  drawn  mainly  from  the   writings  of  Hennepin, 


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Joliet,  and  Membre,  and  the  details  have  been  collected 
into  a  fascinating  volume  by  Parkman.  I  trust  that  a 
brief  recital  will  not  be  uninteresting.  He  was  of  an 
honorable  family,  a  burger  of  Rouen,  where  he  was  born 
in  1643,  and  named  Robert  Cavelier,  better  known  as 
the  Sieur  de  la  Salle,  from  the  name  of  his  estate  near 
Rouen.  He  was  educated  among  the  Jesuits,  but, 
preferring  science  to  theology,  and  being  of  a  daring 
spirit  and  eager  for  adventure,  he  sailed  for  Canada — 
that  paradise  of  adventure — being  then  twenty-three 
years  of  age. 

According  to  an  unpublished  memoir,  we  first  find  him, 
in  1669,  making  his  way  with  a  Seneca  guide  to  the  Ohio, 
which  he  descended  as  far  as  the  rapids  at  Louisville. 
Here,  abandoned  by  his  men,  he  retraced  his  steps 
alone.  The  following  year,  according  to  the  same 
authority,  embarking  in  a  canoe  on  Lake  Erie,  he 
reached  the  Straits  of  Detroit,  coasted  lakes  Huron  and 
Michigan,  and  descended  the  Mississippi  to  the  35th 
degree  of  latitude.  Assured  that  the  Father  of  Rivers 
discharged  not  into  the  Gulf  of  California,  as  had  until 
then  been  supposed,  but  into  that  of  Mexico,  he  re- 
turned to  provide  means  for  more  extended  exploration. 
Unfortunately,  La  Salle's  journals,  and  a  map  which  he 
is  known  to  have,  made,  and  which  existed  in  1756,  are 
lost.  If  the  accounts  be  correct,  these  would  have  given 
to  the  world  the  first  knowledge  of  the  Ohio,  if  not  of 
the  Mississippi. 

It  is  certainly  known  that  the  latter  stream  was  explored 
in  1673  by  Father  Jacques  Marquette,  accompanied  by 
Louis  Joliet,  an  adventurous  merchant,  and  the  subse- 
quent associate  of  La  Salle.  These  did  not,  however, 
go  far  enough  to  solve  the  problem  of  its  terminus. 


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That  these  straits  were  visited  by  the  white  man  at 
a  much  earlier  period  is  matter  of  history.  The  usual 
route  of  the  French  from  the  lower  settlements  to  their 
missions  and  trading-posts  on  the  upper  lakes  was  by  the 
Ottawa,  being  the  most  direct  route.  Champlain  him- 
self had  in  161 1  and  161 2  ascended  that  river  as  far  as 
Lake  Huron.  There  he  visited  the  country  of  the  Sacs, 
near  Saginaw  Bay,  returning  by  way  of  the  straits  and 
Lake  Erie,  as  is  shown  by  his  book  published  at  Paris 
in  1632.  Accompanying  La  Salle's  first  expedition 
(1669)  were  two  priests  of  the  order  of  Sulpitians — Dol- 
lier  and  Galinee — who,  on  arriving  at  Niagara,  were  di- 
verted from  their  purpose,  and  resolved  to  carry  their 
spiritual  succor  to  the  Pottawatomies  of  the  upper  lakes. 
After  various  misadventures,  resulting  in  the  loss  of  a 
great  part  of  their  baggage,  including  the  altar  service — 
a  mishap  they  attributed  to  the  malice  of  the  devil — 
they  reached  the  Detroit  in  the  spring  of  1670.  Here 
they  relate  :  "  At  the  end  of  six  leagues  we  found  a  very 
remarkable  place,  in  great  veneration  among  all  the 
savages  of  these  regions,  because  of  an  idol  of  stone 
which  nature  has  formed  there,  to  which  they  say  they 
owe  the  good  fortune  of  their  navigation  on  Lake  Erie, 
and  which  they  propitiate  with  presents  of  skins,  pro- 
visions, etc."  The  stone  was  hideously  painted,  and 
bore  a  rude  resemblance  to  humanity.  They  were  con- 
vinced that  this  was  the  devil,  to  whom  they  owed  their 
shipwreck.  The  relation  proceeds :  "  I  leave  you  to 
think  whether  we  avenged  on  this  idol  (which  the  Iro- 
quois had  greatly  recommended  us  to  honor)  the  loss 
of  our  chapel.  We  also  attributed  to  it  the  scarcity  of 
provisions  we  had  been  in  up  to  this  time.  In  fine,  there 
was  not  a  person   whose   hatred   it  had   not   incurred." 


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l6o  ^^-^  NAMING  OF  LAKE  STE,  CLAIRE. 

The  priest  tells  us  that  he  consecrated  one  of  his  axes 
to  break  this  stone  god ;  then  "  having  lashed  two 
canoes  together,  we  carried  the  fragments  to  the  middle 
of  the  river,  so  that  no  one  should  hear  of  it  again." 
"  God,**  he  says,  "  immediately  rewarded  us  for  this  good 
action,  for  we  killed  the  same  day  a  buck  and  a  bear." 

This  place  being,  as  the  narrative  tells  us,  **  full  of  the 
lodges  of  those  who  had  come  to  render  their  homage  to 
this  stone,*'  it  seems  incredible  that  such  a  deed  could 
be  done  in  the  very  presence  of  its  savage  worshippers, 
if  it  were  indeed  a  manitou.  Whether  the  savages  were 
restrained  by  the  audacity  of  the  act,  or  the  huge  pro- 
portions of  one  of  the  reverend  friars,  or  whether  they 
attached  less  importance  to  the  "  idol  **  than  these  zeal- 
ous iconoclasts  supposed,  does  not  appear.  Sacred 
stones  were  not  uncommon  in  these  parts.  I  have  seen 
several  such  altars,  sometimes  in  the  most  wild  and 
lonely  situations,  invariably  covered  with  bits  of  tobacco 
and  other  petty  gifts,  which  cost  little  sacrifice. 

Several  years  had  passed  since  these  adventures,  but  La 
Salle  had  lost  neither  energy  nor  purpose.  Means  only 
were  lacking^  But  he  had  rich  relatives,  and  he  was 
aided,  so  far  as  authority  could  go,  by  the  most  energetic 
and  astute  governor  that  had  yet  administered  the  affairs 
of  Canada.  Together  they  planned  a  post  on  Lake  On- 
tario, far  beyond  the  settlements  of  the  St.  Lawrence, 
which  might  overawe  the  Iroquois  and  turn  to  France  the 
stream  of  wealth  that  was  inuring  to  the  Dutch  and 
English  from  the  fur  trade.  Twice  La  Salle  visited 
France,  where  his  influence  at  court  obtained  for  him 
permission  to  pursue  his  plans  at  his  own  expense  for 
five  years.     He  received  from  the  king  a  patent  of  no- 


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bility  and  a  grant  in  seigniory  of  Fort  Frontenac,  as  the 
new  post  was  called. 

But  the  ardent  nature  of  the  man  was  not  content  with 
the  prospect  of  fortune  now  secured.  To  him  it  was 
only  a  base  for  operations  of  vaster  extent  and  bolder 
enterprise.  The  object  which  he  had  in  view  was  most 
comprehensive.  If  the  project  of  a  passage  to  China, 
across  the  continent,  proved  delusive,  he  would  anticipate 
the  Spaniards  and  the  English  in  their  occupation  of  the 
great  West.  He  would  colonize  it  with  Frenchmen,  de- 
velop its  resources,  make  friends  of  the  Indian  tribes, 
and,  by  controlling  the  mouth  of  the  Mississippi,  secure 
an  outlet  for  a  vast  trade  in  the  future.  As  necessary  to 
his  scheme  he  proposed  to  build  a  vessel  for  the  naviga- 
tion of  the  lakes,  above  the  Niagara,  where  only  canoes 
had  been  seen  before,  sufficiently  large  to  carry  the  ma- 
terial needed  for  so  vast  an  enterprise.  In  the  corps  or- 
ganized for  this  expedition  were  two  noted  men,  after- 
wards famous  in  Canadian  annals.  Henry  De  Tonty, 
his  lieutenant,  was  a  young  Italian  officer  who  had  lost  a 
hand  in  the  Sicilian  wars,  and  whom  political  troubles 
had  driven  to  the  New  World.  For  the  lost  member  he 
had  substituted  one  of  iron,  which  gained  him  the  sobri- 
quet of  the  "  iron  hand.'*  It  was  symbolic  of  his  indom- 
itable character.  The  other  adventurous  spirit  was  the 
bold,  audacious,  and  hardy  friar,  P^re  Louis  Hennepin, 
who  had  more  taste  for  wild  and  romantic  travel  than  for 
the  spiritual  part  of  his  mission.  He  became  the  liisto- 
rian  of  the  expedition,  but  is  too  little  trustworthy,  and 
is  inclined  to  magnify  his  own  exploits  at  the  expense  of 
others  of  greater  merit. 

The  place  where  was  built  the  first  vessel  that  sailed 
the  upper  lakes  is  the  mouth  of  a  small  stream,  the  Cay- 


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uga,  about  six  miles  above  the  cataract,  on  the  west 
side  of  Niagara  River.  Hennepin  says:  "Most  of  the 
Iroquois  were  gone  to  wage  war  on  the  other  side  of 
Lake  Erie,"  so,  though  exposed  to  occasional  alarms, 
the  party  were  in  little  danger.  Two  Mohegan  hunters 
prepared  lodges  and  supplied  game.  The  vessel  was 
finished  early  in  the  spring  of  1679.  She  was,  according 
to  Hennepin's  first  account,  of  about  forty-five  tons  bur- 
den. He  afterwards  reports  it  as  sixty  tons,  which  is 
much  more  probable,  considering  the  number  of  men  and 
munitions  she  carried.  Accompanying  Hennepin's  vol- 
ume is  an  engraving  representing  her  in  an  unfinished 
state.  The  drawing  made  by  Judge  Campbell  and  printed 
on  the  programme  of  to-day's  exercises,  gives  a  clear 
idea  of  its  character.  It  was  a  two-masted  schooner,  but 
of  a  fashion  peculiar  to  that  day,  having  double  decks, 
and  a  high  poop  projected  over  the  stern,  where  was  the 
main  cabin,  and  over  this  rose  another  and  smaller 
cabin,  doubtless  for  the  use  of  the  commander.  The 
stern  was  thus  carried  up,  broad  and  straight,  to  consid- 
erable height.  Bulwarks  protected  the  quarter  deck. 
She  bore  on  her  prow  a  huge  figure,  skilfully  carved,  in 
imitation  of  an  heraldic  monster — the  arms  of  Count 
Frontenac — **  and  above  it  an  eagle."  This,  in  the  repre- 
sentation, adorns  the  top  of  the  stern.  La  Salle  bore  no 
good-will  to  the  Jesuits,  who  hated  him,  and  he  often 
boasted  that  he  would  make  the  "  Griffin  "  fly  above  the 
ravens',  meaning  that  he  would  triumph  over  the  black- 
coats.  The  ship  "  carried  five  small  cannon,  three  of  which 
were  brass,  and  three  harquebusses,  and  the  rest  of  the 
ship  had  the  same  ornaments  as  men-of-war  use  to  have." 
"  It  might  have  been  called,"  adds  the  historiographer, 
''  a  moving  fortress."     In  fine,  it  *'  was  well  equipped  with 

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sails,  masts,  and  all  other  things  necessary  for  navigation,'* 
besides  arms,  provisions,  and  merchandise. 

The  previous  autumn  La  Salle  had  sent  fifteen  men  up 
the  lakes  to  trade  for  furs,  and  open  his  way  to  the  Illi- 
nois. He  also  despatched  Tonty  to  the  mouth  of  the  strait 
to  intercept  these  should  they  be  returning.  Then  with 
much  difficulty  the  vessel  was  urged  up  the  two  and  one- 
half  leagues  that  remained  between  the  building  site  and 


the  lake.  Onthe  7th  of  August  the  thirty-four  voyageurs 
embarked,  spread  their  canvas  to  a  favoring  breeze,  and 
having  sung  Te  Deum,  set  forth  on  their  voyage.  The 
ship  proved  a  good  sailer.  On  the  nth  they  entered  "a 
strait  thirty  leagues  long  and  one  broad,"  called  in  the 
language  of  the  French,  "  the  Detroit,"  where  they  were 
joined  by  Tonty,  and  the  next  day  reached  the  beautiful 
expanse  which  spreads  before  us. 


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Tradition  says  that  on  reaching  the  lake  they  were 
wind-bound  for  several  days,  and  this  is  rendered  proba- 
ble by  the  fact  that  they  did  not  reach  Lake  Huron  until 
the  23d.  Here,  too,  let  us  stop,  and  inquire  whence  was 
derived  the  name  which  the  lake  bears.  On  Champlain's 
map  (1632)  no  name  appears.  Sanson's  map,  published 
officially  1656,  calls  it  **the  lake  of  salt  waters;  "  Huron 
being  designated  at  that  period  as  "  le  mer  douce,"  or  the 
fresh-water  sea.  Galinee,  the  hero  of  the  stone  idol, 
who  passed  here  nine  years  before,  says,  "We  saw  no 
mark  of  salt  in  this  lake."  The  notion  probably  or- 
iginated from  the  brackish  springs  which  exist  at  the 
mouth  of  the  Clinton  River.  Hennepin  tells  us  that 
"the  Iroquois  who  pass  over  it  frequently,  when  upon 
their  warlike  designs,  call  it  Otsi-Keta."  It  bore,  also, 
according  to  Judge  Campbell,  the  Indian  names  of  Kan- 
dekie  and  Ganatchio.  Many  suppose  that  the  lake  was 
called  after  Patrick  St.  Clair,  who  was  lieutenant-gov- 
ernor at  Mackinaw  in  1783.  But  this  is  altogether  too 

It  was  a  custom  of  French  voyageurs  in  new  regions 
to  bestow  upon  any  prominent  feature  of  the  landscape 
the  name  of  the  saint  to  whom  the  day  of  the  discovery 
was  dedicated  in  the  church  calendar.  There  was  a  saint 
who  bore  the  present  modernized  name,  and  who  was 
one  of  the  headless  saints,  a  martyr  to  his  virtue,  but  his 
calendar  day  is  November.  The  saint  whose  name  was 
really  bestowed,  and  whose  day  is  August  12,  is  the  female 
**  Sainte  Claire,"  the  foundress  of  the  order  of  Franciscan 
nuns  of  the  thirteenth  century,  known  as  "  Poor  Claires." 
Clara  d'Assisi  was  the  beautiful  daughter  of  a  nobleman 
of  great  wealth,  who  early  dedicated  herself  to  a  relig- 
ious life  and  went    to    St.   Francis  to   ask    for  advice. 


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On  Palm  Sunday  she  went  to  church  with  her  family 
dressed  in  rich  attire,  where  St.  Francis  cut  off  her  long 
hair  with  his  own  hands  and  threw  over  her  the  coarse  pen- 
itential robes  of  the  order.  She  entered  the  convent  of 
SanDamiano  in  spite  of  the  opposition  of  her  family  and 
friends.  It  is  related  of  her  that  on  one  occasion,  when 
the  Saracens  came  to  ravage  the  convent,  she  arose  from 
her  bed,  where  she  had  been  long  confined,  and  placing 
the  pyx,  which  contained  the  host,  upon  the  threshold, 
she  kneeled  down  and  began  to  sing,  whereupon  the 
infidels  threw  down  their  arms  and  fled.  Sancta  Clara 
is  a  favorite  saint  all  over  Europe,  and  her  fame  in  the 
New  World  ought  not  to  be  spoiled — like  the  record 
of  the  dead  in  a  battle  gazette — by  a  misspelt  name  I 

The  interest  of  the  subject  will,  I  know,  with  my 
present  auditors,  pardon  the  introduction  of  a  few 
further  researches  into  the  history  of  the  Lady  Claire. 
She  was  one  of  the  most  celebrated  foundresses  of  orders 
in  the  Roman  church.  Besides  the  Clarisses,  instituted 
in  1212,  she  is  said  to  have  founded  the  Capucines,  the 
Annonciades,  the  Cordolieres  or  Gray  Sisters,  the  Nuns 
of  the  Ave  Marie  and  of  the  Conception,  and  the  Recol- 
letes.  At  a  time  when  all  the  communities  were  extort- 
ing from  the  popes  the  authorization  to  possess  prop- 
erty, she  solicited  from  Innocent  IV.,  in  favor  of  her 
order  of  Franciscans,  the  privilege  of  perpetual  poverty  ! 
F.  Way,  in  his  work  on  Rome,  published  in  1875,  says: 
"  Sancta  Clara  has  her  tomb  at  the  Minerva,  and  she 
dwelt  between  the  Pantheon  and  the  Thermae  of 
Agrippa.  The  tenement  she  occupied  at  the  time  of  her 
decease  still  exists,  but  is  not  well  known.  In  a  little 
triangular  place  on  or  near  Via  Tor.  Argentina,  lodged 
the  first  convent  of  the  Clarisses.     If,  crossing  the  gate- 


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1 66  ^-^^  NAMING  OF  LAKE  STE.   CLAIRE. 

way,  you  turn  to  the  left  of  the  court,  you  will  face  two 
windows  of  a  slightly  raised  ground  floor.  It  was  there 
Innocent  IV.  visited  her,  and  there  on  the  I2th  August, 
1253,  listening  to  the  reading  of  the  Passion,  in  the 
midst  of  her  weeping  nuns,  died  the  first  abbess  of  the 
Clarisses  and  the  founder  of  4000  religious  houses.** 

We  are  not  told  with  what  imposing  ceremonies  the 
christening  was  performed,  but  surely  some  inspiration 
was  derived  from  the  beautiful  scenes  of  nature  through 
which  the  voyageurs  had  just  passed,  which  then  sur- 
rounded them,  and  which  to  our  eyes  this  day  are  no 
less  lovely  and  inspiring.  The  natural  beauty  of  the 
region  lying  between  lakes  Erie  and  Huron  had  been 
recorded  by  all  the  early  travellers,  with  words  of  admira- 
tion. Many  of  the  islands  were  low,  and  some  of  the 
river  margins  scarcely  above  the  water.  But  all  was 
green  and  peaceful.  Dark  forests  extended  to  the  river 
edge,  and  many  a  tall  monarch  of  the  wood  waved  its 
gigantic  arms  over  the  brink,  and  was  reflected  in  a 
glassy  surface  which  no  tide  or  flood  ever  disturbed. 
The  marshes  were  luxuriant  with  wild  rice,  that  fur- 
nished a  sumptuous  repast  to  a  great  variety  of  birds 
and  water  fowl,  and  even  a  welcome  supply  to  the 
Indians.  Occasional  villages  and  bark  wigwams  enliv- 
ened the  shore,  surrounded  with  gardens  and  corn  fields, 
and  the  most  elevated  points  were  crowned  with  burial 
mounds.  Most  of  the  shores  had  high  banks  and  were 
covered  with  timber.  Especial  notice  is  bestowed  upon 
Grosse  Isle,  and  forest-crowned  Isle  au  Cochon — Belle 
Isle— lay  like  an  emerald  gem,  in  its  setting  of  bright 

The  choniclers  all  allude  to  the  abundance  of  wild 
game  and  fruits.     There  were  "  apples  as  large  as  the 


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Pommes  d'Api/'  or  Lady  Apples,  and  nuts  "like 
moderate  sized  oranges.*'  La  Hontan  says  '*  the  pears 
are  good  but  rare.*'  The  apples  were  probably  crabs, 
though  one  writer  speaks  of  the  trees  as  set  methodi- 
cally ;  but  who  can  tell  us  what  were  the  pears  ?  Can  it 
be  that  the  famous  French  pear  trees,  whose  origin  no 
man  living  knows,  existed  here  as  natives  at  that  day? 
The  beauties  of  the  passage  filled  our  voyageurs  with 
rapturous  delight.  Hennepin  records  the  loveliness  of 
the  shores,  the  prairies,  and  the  forests.  The  **  Griffin  ** 
was  covered  with  game  and  fruits  which  had  been 
gathered  in  great  abundance  and  with  little  effort.  The 
fruit  consisted  of  chestnuts,  walnuts,  and  butternuts, 
apples,  pears,  plums,  and  grapes ;  the  game  of  deer  and 
many  smaller  animals,  and  flocks  of  swans,  ducks,  and 
turkeys,  and  they  had  feasted  on  the  meat  of  a  bear 
they  had  killed.  The  Father  adds,  "They  who  shall 
have  the  happiness  some  day  to  inhabit  this  pleasant 
and  fertile  country  will  remember  their  obligation  to 
those  who  first  showed  them  the  way.*' 

The  chronicles  are  silent  as  to  Indian  settlements  on 
the  Straits,  which  is  not  singular,  considering  that  they 
seldom  recorded  such  things  unless  there  was  special 
occasion.  The  white  occupation  followed  closely  upon 
this  period.  A  fort  was  established,  as  we  know,  near 
where  Port  Huron  now  is,  in  1687  \  and  it  would  appear 
from  a  memoir  of  the  Sieur  de  Tonty,  then  on  his  way 
down  from  the  Illinois,  that  something  of  the  kind  ex- 
isted in  the  same  year  between  lakes  Erie  and  St.  Claire. 
He  says:  **  We  came  on  the  19th  of  May  to  Fort  Detroit. 
We  made  some  canoes  of  elm,  and  I  s^nt  one  of  them 
to  Fort  St.  Joseph  on  the  high  ground  above  Detroit, 
thirty  leagues  from  where  we  were,  to   give  the  Sieur 


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du  Leet  (who  commanded  there)  information  of  my 
arrival."  Twenty-two  years  after  the  visit  of  the. "  Grif- 
fin *'  the  first  colonization  was  begun  in  this  region,  at 
the  place  which  now  monopolizes  the  name  of  "  Detroit." 

Le  Ditroity  or  the  Straits  —  under  which  name  the 
French  included  the  entire  passage  between  lakes  Erie  and 
Huron — was  visited  by  Charlevoix  in  1720,  who  thus 
records  his  opinion  of  the  country.  **  Above  the  Isle 
of  Sainte  Claire  the  Detroit  widens  and  forms  a  lake, 
which  has  received  its  name  from  the  island,  or  which 
has  given  its  name  to  the  latter.  It  is  about  six  leagues 
long  by  as  many  wide  in  some  places.  This  is  pro- 
nounced the  most  beautiful  part  of  Canada,  and  truly, 
judging  by  appearances.  Nature  has  refused  it  nothing 
which  can  constitute  a  charming  country;  low  hills, 
prairies,  plains,  old  forests,  streams,  springs,  rivers,  all 
are  so  good  of  their  kind,  and  so  happily  assorted,  that 
one  knows  nothing  further  to  be  desired.  The  lands 
are  of  admirable  fertility.  The  islands  seem  to  have 
been  placed  with  a  view  to  charm  the  senses.  The 
river  and  the  lake  are  full  of  fish,  the  air  pure,  and 
the  climate  temperate  and  very  healthy.*' 

The  many  beautiful  homes  we  see  around  us  to-day 
show  how  amply  these  favorable  judgments  of  the  early 
chroniclers  have  been  confirmed  and  illustrated  by  those 
to  whom  the  inheritance  has  fallen. 

I  shall  follow  very  cursorily  in  the  path  of  La  Salle 
and  his  party.  The  "  Griffin,"  which  hitherto  had  been 
favored  with  prosperous  winds,  encountered  off  Saginaw 
Bay  a  furious  storm,  which  sorely  tried  the  skill  and 
courage  of  the  voyageurs.  Nor  did  it  calm  until  they 
had  called  upon  St.  Anthony  of  Padua— the  patron  of 
mariners— to  whom,  says  Membr6,  **  they  made  a  vow, 


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which  delivered  them  by  a  kind  of  miracle."  Hennepin 
narrates  that  during  the  height  of  the  gale  "  everybody 
fell  on  his  knees  to  say  his  prayers  and  prepare  for 
death,  except  our  pilot,  whom  we  could  never  oblige  to 
pray,  and  he  did  nothing  all  the  while  but  curse  and 
swear  against  M.  de  La  Salle,  who  had  brought  him 
thither  to  perish  in  a  nasty  lake  and  lose  the  glory  he 
had  acquired  by  his  long  and  happy  navigation  of  the 
ocean."  At  length,  escaped  the  tempest,  they  reached 
Point  St.  Ignace,  the  centre  of  the  Jesuit  missions  and 
the  Indian  trade. 

A  very  slight  sketch  must  here  suffice  us  of  the 
further  fortunes  of  La  Salle ;  and  the  fate  of  the  "  Grif- 
fin "  will  command  our  interest.  Brave,  adventurous  and 
successful  as  were  the  early  explorers  of  New  France, 
there  was  but  small  recognition  of  their  services,  either 
by  the  Government  at  home  or  in  the  New  World.  A 
deep  jealousy  of  La  Salle's  designs  pervaded  the  fur 
traders  as  well  as  the  Jesuits,  and  made  them  hostile  to 
his  enterprise,  since  it  threatened  injury  to  their  private 
gains.  Had  Jesuit  and  Recollet,  merchant  and  officer, 
constituted  a  band  of  brothers,  all  would  have  gone  well 
for  France  in  the  New  Wofld.  Unhappily  it  was  far 
otherwise.  The  clashings  of  interest  could  never  be 
reconciled,  and  it  often  happened  that  the  meetings  of 
white  men  in  the  far  wilderness  were  those  of  enemies 
in  disguise.  Of  the  fifteen  men  sent  out  by  La  Salle 
the  year  before,  a  few  who  remained  faithful  had  col- 
lected at  Green  Bay  a  store  of  furs,  which  he  resolved  to 
send  back  with  the  vessel  to  satisfy  his  creditors,  while 
he,  with  his  stores,  his  Mohegan,  and  his  three  friars, 
should  continue  up  Lake  Michigan.  After  completing 
her  errand  the  "  Griffin  *'  was  to  return  to  St.  Joseph, 


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where  a  fort  should  be  built,  and  preparations  made  for 
the  descent  of  the  Mississippi. 

But  the  "Griffin**  was  never  heard  from  again. 
Whether  she  foundered  or  was  burned  by  the  Ottawas  is 
not  known.  La  Salle  believed  she  was  treacherously- 
sunk  by  the  pilot  to  whom  he  had  entrusted  her.  What 
ever  was  her  fate,  the  salt-water  hero  of  the  storm  on 
Lake  Huron  was  doomed  to  perish  in  "  the  nasty  fresh 
water  "  which  he  so  detested. 

The  loss  was  vital.  Yet  the  brave-hearted  cavalier, 
undeterred  by  a  misfortune  so  great,  pushed  on  to 
Illinois,  where  he  built  a  fort.  Leaving  Tonty  and 
Hennepin  to  occupy  the  fort,  and  in  the  midst  of  a  sav- 
age winter,  he  made  his  way  back  on  foot  to  his  far  dis- 
tant Fort  Frontenac.  The  path  led  through  wilds  un- 
known, across  the  Michigan  peninsula.  He  crossed  the 
Detroit  on  a  raft,  and  almost  alone,  for  his  men  were 
worn  out,  reached  his  seigniory.  Thence  he  hurried  to 
Montreal,  giving  no  rest  to  his  ardent  spirits  and  iron 
nerve.  Here  the  intelligence  met  him  of  the  desertion 
of  his  men  and  the  destruction  of  his  fort  on  the  Illinois. 
Tonty  and  Hennepin  must  be  rescued.  With  their  aid 
and  with  fresh  supplies  he  •  might  yet  save  the  vessel, 
which  was  on  the  stocks,  and  make  good  the  descent  of 
the  Mississippi.  He  returned  to  Ottawa  and  reached  his 
destination,  only  to  find  a  solitude.  The  dreaded  Iro- 
quois had  driven  off  or  murdered  his  friendly  Illinois, 
the  plain  was  strewn  with  mangled  corpses,  and  no  tid- 
ings could  be  learned,  of  Tonty. 

We  are  told  of  new  schemes  which  now  occupied  his 
fertile  brain,  among  which  was  that  of  a  grand  confed- 
eracy of  the  tribes  against  the  common  foe.  We  are 
told  of  the  recovery  of  his  two  companions  in  the  spring, 


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with  whom  he  paddled  back  to  Fort  Frontenac  ;  of  his 
commutation  with  his  creditors,  by  the  loss  of  half  his 
seigniory,  and  of  his  third  journey  to  Illinois  to  recover 
the  lost  ground.  Abandoning  the  building  of  a  vessel, 
and  dragging  their  canoes  on  sledges,  they  embarked, 
and  on  the  6th  of  February,  amid  floating  ice,  issued 
forth  on  the  majestic  Mississippi.  With  his  small  party, 
and  amid  new  and  strange  scenes,  they  reached  the  out- 
let of  the  great  river,  and  on  the  9th  of  April,  1682, 
La  Salle  planted  his  standard  and  took  possession  of 
Louisiana,  "  in  the  name  of  the  most  high,  mighty,  in- 
vincible, and  victorious  prince,  Louis  the  Great,  by  the 
grace  of  God  king  of  France  and  Navarre."  What  did 
not  such  zeal  and  enterprise  deserve  of  his  country,  for 
which  he  had  obtained  an  empire  so  boundless?  But 
what  availed  this  success  to  a  prince  who,  though  so 
"  high  and  mighty,"  had  not  contributed  a  sou  to  the 
enterprise,  and  who  could  write  thus  to  the  governor  of 
Canada :  "  I  am  convinced,  like  you,  that  the  discovery 
of  the  Sieur  de  la  Salle  is  very  useless,  and  that  such 
enterprises  ought  to  be  prevented  in  future,  as  they  tend 
only  to  debauch  the  inhabitants  by  the  hope  of  gain  and 
to  diminish  the  revenue  from  beaver  skins  !  *' 

Need  I  recount  how  this  great  man,  ignorant  of  the 
change  in  the  Government  and  filled  with  bright  visions 
of  the  future,  retraced  his  steps  to  the  Illinois,  where  his 
influence  had  assembled  thousands  of  Indian  warriors 
friendly  to  his  cause ,  how  that  here  he  learned  not  only 
that  the  new  governor,  Le  Barre,  turned  a  deaf  ear  to 
his  appeals,  but  that  under  a  frivolous  pretext  he  had 
seized  and  wasted  his  property  and  reduced  him  to 
poverty,  and  how  nothing  remained  but  for  him  to  again 


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cross  the  seas  and  lay  his  cause   before  his  sovereign  in 
person  ? 

It  must  suffice  me  to  say  of  this  personal  appeal  to 
the  throne  that  truth  and  eloquence  once  more  gained 
for  La  Salle  a  just  recognition  of  his  great  services. 
Having  thus  recovered  his  influence  he  was  enabled  to 
carry  out  a  scheme  worthy  his  character  and  fame, — the 
'  colonization  of  Louisiana.  He  was  granted  four  vessels 
and  one  hundred  soldiers,  besides  ship-builders,  mechan- 
ics, and  laborers,  and  many  so-called  **  gentlemen  of  con- 
dition.'* Poor  material  these  for  a  colony  in  the  wilder- 
ness, but  a  more  prudent  addition  was  made  in  a  num- 
ber of  girls,  who  joined  the  expedition  with  the  prospect 
of  becoming  wives  to  the  colonists.  Alas,  that  of  this 
well-concerted  project  we  have  to  record  only  the  most 
bitter  failure !  From  lack  of  harmony  between  the 
leader  and  his  captains,  ignorance  of  the  coast,  or  design 
on  the  part  of  the  pilot,  the  fleet  sailed  past  the  mouths 
of  the  river,  and  in  attempting  to  land  the  store-ship  was 
wrecked,  with  the  loss  of  most  of  her  cargo.  The  naval 
commander  spread  his  sails  and  returned  to  France,  leav- 
ing on  a  wild  and  desolate  shore  a  forlorn  hope, — the  in- 
fant colony  who  were  to  conquer  for  France  a  territory 
half  as  large  as  Europe.  After  a  winter  spent  in  vain  at- 
tempts to  find  the  fatal  river  a  settlement  was  begun. 
But  two  years  of  suffering  and  disappointment  reduced 
their  number  to  less  than  one-fourth.  La  Salle  now 
attempted  to  make  his  way,  with  a  trusted  few,  across 
the  country  to  the  river  and  thence  to  Canada,  to  obtain 
succor  for  the  colony.  With  this  party  were  two  men 
who  had  sworn  vengeance  upon  their  leader.  On  the 
morning  of  May  i6,  1687,  they  killed  his  three  servants, 
including  his  faithful  Indian  hunter,  and  as  La  Salle  him- 


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self  approached  where  the  murderers  lay,  a  bullet  pierced 
his  brain  and  he  fell  dead. 

Thus  perished  at  the  age  of  forty-four  years  a  man  of 
whose  like  there  have  been  few  examples.  In  his  active 
nature  and  determined  energy  a  close  resemblance  may 
be  found  in  our  own  youthful  Houghton.  He  had  spent 
twenty  years  in  incessant  activity,  and  in  pursuit  of  his 
grand  scheme,  as  he  himself  says,  had  "  traversed  more 
than  5000  leagues  of  new  and  unknown  territory,  among 
savage  and  cannibal  nations,  often  on  foot,  through  snow 
and  water,  without  escort,  without  provisions,  without 
bread,  without  wine,  without  recreation,  and  without 
repose."     And  now  nothing  remained  of  all  his  labors. 

It  would  be  too  much  to  say  that  no  selfish  motive 
actuated  him.  He  hoped  to  make  for  himself  an  abid- 
ing fame,  and,  doubtless,  he  looked  for  the  time  when 
wealth  and  power  should  reward  his  toils.  But  he  was 
essentially  a  man  whose  heart  was  in  the  work  of  discov- 
ery, and  in  this  field  there  is  no  brighter  name  in  Ameri- 
can annals. 

It  is  for  us,  who  share  the  benefit  of  his  life,  to  per- 
petuate his  memory.  But  where  or  how  shall  we  erect 
his  monument  ?  A  few  years  ago  there  was  in  the  city 
of  Detroit  a  street  called  by  his  name  ;  a  petty  tribute, 
but  even  this  has  disappeared  in  the  demand  for  a  new 
nomenclature.  Another  street,  recently  opened  in  the 
western  suburb,  alone  bears  evidence  of  his  honored 
memory.  Let  me  add  a  suggestion.  On  the  outer 
walls  of  the  beautiful  edifice  which  Detroit  has  erected 
as  her  hotel  de  ville,  or  city  hall,  are  four  niches  de- 
signed for  statues.  They  are  now  empty.  Let  them  be 
filled  with  marble  images  of  men  whose  names  and  fame 
are  indissolubly  associated  with  this  region. 


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Foremost  will  be  that  of  the  Sieur  de  la  Salle.  An 
engraved  portrait  of  him  is  given  by  Hennepin,  from 
which  his  features  may  be  modelled  ;  and  we  have  a  Suf- 
ficiently accurate  description  of  his  tall  figure  and  manly 
and  somewhat  austere  bearing.  On  the  occasion  of  his 
visit  with  the  "  Griffin  "  he  donned,  when  it  seemed  advis- 
able to  make  some  display,  a  scarlet  coat  with  gold  trim- 
mings. The  dress  of  a  gentleman  of  that  period  in 
Canada  is  well  known,  and  there  should  be  no  difficulty 
in  sufficiently  distinguishing  him. 

The  other  pedestals  may  be  filled  with  men  of  noble 
fame,  whom  France  gave  to  America,  and  who  belong  to 
us.  I  need  only  mention  De  la  Motte  Cadillac,  the 
founder  of  Detroit, — a  portrait  of  whom  is  known  to 
have  existed,  for  which  search  is  being  made,  and  (as 
Hon.  Levi  Bishop  assures  us)  with  promise  of  success. 
The  devoted  and  self-sacrificing  Jesuit,  P^re  Marquette, 
than  whom  none  is  more  deserving ;  and  lastly,  though 
of  later  time,  the  Catholic  priest  whom  all  loved,  and 
who  first  represented  this  territory  in  Congress,  Father 
Richard.  Of  him  an  excellent  portrait  is  extant.  The 
flowing  yet  diverse  robes  of  the  two  priests  will  contrast 
strikingly  with  the  rich  official  vestments  of  the  noble- 
man and  the  courtier. 

And  now,  as  we  look  back  upon  the  past  that  we  have 
recalled,  with  its  wild  surroundings,  its  hopes,  and  its 
disappointments,  and  note  the  changes  which  two  cent- 
uries have  wrought,  let  us  take  heart,  and  hope  that  the 
future  of  this  great  country  will  be  more  glorious  than 
the  discoverer's  wildest  dreams  1 


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(Statue— City  Hall,  Detroit,  1884.; 



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"  During  the  course  of  a  long  life,  in  which  I  have  made  observations  on 
public  affairs,  it  has  appeared  to  me  that  almost  every  war  between  the 
Indians  and  Whites  has  been  occasioned  by  some  injustice  of  the  latter 
towards  the  former.  It  is  indeed  extremely  imprudent  in  us  to  quarrel 
with  them  for  their  lands,  as  they  are  generally  willing  to  sell,  and  sell  such 
good  bargains ;  and  a  war  with  them  is  so  mischievous  to  us,  in  unsettling 
frequently  a  great  part  of  our  frontiers,  and  reducing  the  inhabitants  to 
poverty  and  distress,  and  is  besides  so  expensive,  that  it  is  much  cheaper 
as  well  as  honester  to  buy  their  lands  than  to  take  them  by  force." — Letter 
^Benjamin  Franklin,  1787. 


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THOUGH  it  is  many  years  since  the  last  individual 
has  disappeared  of  the  several  Indian  villages  that, 
on  the  first  establishment  of  the  French,  peopled  the 
shores  of  the  Detroit,  there  yet  remain  in  Michigan  small 
remnants  of  tribes  belonging  to  several  nations. 

At  the  establishment  of  the  present  State  Government, 
in  1836,  the  most  numerous  of  these  tribes  or  nations 
was  the  Chippewas, — or  Ogibways,  according  to  their 
language.  They  claimed  a  large  portion  of  the  .country 
bordering  upon  Lake  Superior,  and  were  scattered 
through  the  valleys  o£  the  Grand  and  Saginaw  rivers. 
There  were  small  bands  of  Ottawas  and  Pottawatomies 
living  upon  reservations  in  the  western  part  of  the  penin- 
sula, upon  and  near  Lake  Michigan,  and  a  small  band  of 
Sauks  or  Sacs  (the  tribe  to  which  the  celebrated  war 
chief.  Black  Hawk,  belonged)  were  settled  upon  a  reser- 
vation on  the  Huron  River. 

A  considerable  portion  of  the  upper  peninsula  of 
Michigan,  when  the  writer  first  visited  it,  in  1840,  was 
still  unceded  Indian  territory. 

In  most  of  the  Indian  cessions  to  the  United  States 
reservations  were  made,  at  favorite  points  on  the 
streams,  of  extent  sufficient  for  the  wants  of  the  greatly 
reduced  bands,  or  such  portions  of  them  as  did  not  wish 
to  remove  to  lands  offered  them  by  the  Government, 
beyond  the  Mississippi.  Of  these,  few  now  remain  in 
Indian  possession. 



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However  just  may  be  the  complaints  of  injustice  done 
to  the  aboriginal  tribes  of  America,  in  the  bargains  so 
often  made  with  them  for  the  purchase  of  the  lands  held 
or  claimed  as  theirs,  it  is  gratifying  to  record,  that  no 
stigma  attaches  to  any  transactions  of  this  nature  within 
the  limits  of  Michigan.  Full  compensation  has.  been 
given  in  all  cases.  In  the  treaty  made  through  Mr. 
Schoolcraft,  as  commissioner  on  the  part  of  the  United 
States,  for  the  territory  claimed  by  the  Chippewas  of 
Saginaw,  the  price  paid  was  probably  more  than  the 
Government  will  ever  realize  from  the  public  sales  of  the 
lands  ceded. 

Though,  with  the  exception  of  small  reservations,  all 
the  lower  peninsula  had  been  ceded  to  the  United  States, 
there  remained  in  1837  ^  very  considerable  Indian  popu- 
lation, residing  in  villages  and  small  agricultural  commu- 
nities, at  various  points.  These  received  annuities  from 
the  federal  government,  through  Indian  agents.  Schools 
were  also  established  among  them,  each  community  was 
provided  with  a  blacksmith,  maintained  at  the  national 
expense,  and  considerable  sums  were  yearly  expended  in 
the  encouragement  of  agriculture.  The  entire  Indian 
population  of  the  State,  at  that  time,  was  probably  not 
less  than  15,000. 

In  Clark's  Gazetteer  of  Michigan,  for  1863,  are  enumer- 
ated the  following,  as  the  entire  Indian  population  : 


Chippewas  of  Lake  Superior 7  1,004 

Ottawas  and  Chippewas  south  of  Lake  Superior 49  4.826 

Chippewas  of  Saginaw 13  1,632 

Chippewas,  Ottawas  and  Pottawatomies  of  southern  counties. .  2  235 

Pottawatomies  of  Huron  i  51 

Totals 72        7,748 


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CHI  PPM  WAS  OF  SA  GIN  A  W.  I  g  i 

Among  these  are  twenty-eight  schools,  supported  by 
the  federal  government. 
^  They  have  six  smiths,  and  from  fifteen  to  eighteen 

^  missionaries. 

The  Government  pays  annually : 

In  cash  annuities,  about $40,000 

In  goods 3»ooo 

For  schools,  smiths  and  agricultural  purposes 20,000 

For  agencies 8,000 

Total $70,000 

which  amounts  to  more  than  nine  dollars  for  each  man, 
woman  and  child. 

Yet  all  this  provident   care   does   not   prevent  their 
rapid  diminution. 
}  In  the  fall  of  1837  I  visited  a  village  of  the  Chippe- 

WcLs  of  Saginaw.  It  was  situated  on  the  river  Tittaba- 
wassee,  sixteen  miles  above  Saginaw  City.  The  small- 
pox had  lately  visited  the  band,  and  the  village  was 
nearly  deserted.  It  consisted  of  a  few  lodges  only. 
These  differed  from  any  I  had  before  seen ;  being  built 
of  strong  poles,  covered  and  lined  with  bark,  and  large 
enough  to  accommodate,  after  the  native  fashion,  a  fam- 
ily of  ten  to  twenty  persons.  Several  fields  of  maize,  of 
perhaps  twenty  acres  each,  constituted  the  cultivation. 
These  were  ploughed  and  planted  with  regularity,  show- 
ing a  good  degree  of  agricultural  improvement. 

That  dire  disease,  small-pox,  unknown  to  the  Indians 
before  the  coming  of  the  whites,  and,  next  to  "  fire 
water,**  their  most  fatal  gift,  had  made  cruel  havoc 
among  this  band,  and  nearly  annihilated  it.  It  was 
said,  that  out  of  five  or  six  hundred,  who  composed  the 
band,  not  more  than  a  third  were  left. 


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Being  desirous  to  obtain  a  canoe  belonging  to  the 
chief,  I  went,  late  in  the  evening,  with  an  interpreter, 
to  his  lodge.  This  old  chief  was  named  Ba-mos-^ya 
(Dried-in-the-Sun),  and  was  called  by  the  whites  the 
"  pox-marked  chief.'*  We  sat  with  him  an  hour,  though 
he  and  his  family  had  gone  to  rest  some  time  before.  He 
seemed  glad  of  the  interruption,  for  the  desolation  of 
his  band  had  made  the  old  man  lonely.  Two  of  his 
three  wives  had  died,  and  his  lodge — about  sixteen  feet 
square — was  occupied  by  him,  with  his  remaining  wife, 
and  a  large  family  of  children.  He  sat  upon  the  bed  in 
his  blanket,  naked  to  the  waist,  and  talked  with  much 
energy  on  the  subject  nearest  his  heart  for  half  an 
hour,  during  which  we  did  not  interrupt  him.  He  told 
how  a  strong  disease  had  attacked  his  little  band,  until 
one  by  one  they  dropped  away,  and  dying  families  left 
their  dead  unburied,  or  covered  with  sand  upon  the 

What  greatly  increased  their  distress  was  the  refusal 
of  the  Government  agents  to  assist  them.  Through  fear 
of  the  disease,  they  deserted  the  band  in  its  utmost 
need,  and  when  wholly  unable  to  hunt,  withholding  the 
supplies  so  much  needed,  and  which  were  due  them  by 
treaties,  permitting  the  band  to  perish  of  sickness  and 
starvation.  To  the  shame  of  humanity,  it  is  to  be  feared 
that  this  charge  was  too  true. 

This  chief  was  not  called  to  the  treaty  recently  con- 
eluded  at  Detroit,  where  the  lands  of  his  tribe  had  been 
ceded  away,  and  he  was  much  dissatisfied  in  conse- 
quence, he  and  his  band  refusing  to  remove. 

Altogether,  this  is  the  best-looking  tribe  I  have  seen 
in  Michigan.  Some  of  the  girls  have  regular  features, 
that   even    among   white  beauties   would   be   esteemed 




handsome.  Among  these  was  a  young  granddaughter 
of  olid  Bamoseya,  a  beautiful  half-breed,  with  brilliant 
black  eyes.  Notwithstanding  the  pleasing  poetic  fic- 
tions of  poets  and  painters,  it  is  rare  to  find,  among  any 
of  the  Indian  tribes  of  this  region,  the  forms  and  feat- 
ures which,  according  to  our  ideas,  constitute  beauty. 

Possibly  the  life  of  labor  to  which  the  squaws  are  sub- 
jected has  helped  to  entail  upon  them  some  organic 
defects.  In  general  the  men  have  much  the. finest  forms. 
Among  the  Chippewas,  as  well  as  the  Pottawatomies 
and  Ottawas,  I  have  been  struck  with  the  many  agile, 
lithe  and  manly  figures. 

The  chief  of  a  small  band  of  Pottawatomies,  whom  I 
saw  in  Branch  County,  named  Sauquoit,  was  a  man  of 
tall  and  elegant  stature,  and  of  an  open,  intelligent  coun- 
tenance. His  dress,  like  that  of  most  of  his  tribe,  con- 
sisted of  a  few  tattered  garments  of  the  white  man,  with 
cloth  leggins,  having  a  broad  fringe  at  the  sides,  after 
the  Indian  fashion,  and  fitted  tight  to  the  limb. 

There  is  in  the  Indian  organization  more  of  agility  and 
grace  than  of  strength.  Of  this  I  witnessed  an  instance 
among  some  young  Ottawas  and  the  young  men  of  my 
party  of  whites.  In  a  wrestling  match  the  Indians  were 
easily  thrown,  until  they  resorted  to  the  stratagem  of 
entirely  stripping  and  greasing  their  bodies.  In  swift- 
ness of  foot  they  were  more  than  a  match  for  our  men, 
though  the  wind  and  endurance  of  the  latter  were 

The  love  of  the  Indians  for  the  **  fire-water,"  and  the 
ease  with  which  they  are  enabled  to  procure  it,  through 
the  cupidity  of  the  whites,  have  ever  proved  one  of  the 
great  obstacles  to  their  civilization.  The  State  and  gen- 
eral governments  have  frequently  passed  laws  to  prevent 


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the  sale  -of  ardent  spirits  to  the  Indians,  and  many  at- 
tempts have  been  made  to  enforce  them,  but  in  this,  as 
in  most  other  cases,  self-interest  usually  gets  the  better 
of  good  resolutions. 

An  anecdote  in  point  was  related  to  me  by  a  mer- 
chant in  one  of  our  interior  villages.  At  the  time  of 
my  story  he  was  a  trader  with  the  Indians,  having  his 
store  at  Jackson,  from  which,  after  the  custom  of  the 
traders,  he  would  send  out  runners  to  intercept  the  na- 
tives on  their  trail,  and  toll  them  to  his  store.  *.*  The  sale 
of  spirituous  liquors  was  contrary  to  law,  yet  no  one,'* 

said  Mr.  D- ,  "  could   deal  with  those   thirsty  souls, 

without  supplying  their  taste  for  the  dram.  If  they 
could  not  obtain  it  here,  they  would  mount  horses  and  go 
to  Detroit  for  their  trade,  where  whiskey  could  be  got." 
So,  when  a  trade  was  concluded,  it  was  his  custom  to  lock 
doors,  and  treat  his  customers  to  their  favorite  beverage, 
taking  care  that  none  should  be  seen  drunk  within  vil- 
lage  limits. 

"  There  were  only  about  twenty  whites,**  said  he,  "  with 
whom  I  traded,  out  of  the  whole  county,  but  they  were 
mostly  *  church  members,*  and  indignant  at  the  mer- 
chants* reported  dealing  of  spirits  to  the  Indians.*'  They 
assembled  a  county  meeting  on  the  subject,  at  which  Mr. 

D was  called  to  account.     The   trader,  being  thus 

summoned,  appeared  and  made  a  speech  in  his  vindica- 
tion. He  represented  to  the  meeting,  that,  as  the  giving 
of  liquors  to  the  Indians  was  unlawful,  he  had  never  ac- 
knowledged, nor  would  he,  that  he  had  ever  furnished  it 
to  them.  "But,"  said  he,  "you  very  well  know  the  im- 
possibility of  effecting  a  trade  unless  liquor  comes  from 
some  quarter,  and  that  if  it  is  not  forthcoming  they  will 
invariably  trade  elsewhere.     It  is  therefore  my  opinion 


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that  somebody  does  furnish  it,  in  order  that  their  trade 
may  be  secured  to  us.*' 

Whereupon  an  influential   citizen  arose,   and    moved 

that  Mr.  D be  required  to  supply  the  Indians  with 

as  much  liquor  as  he  thinks  necessary  to  retain  their  trade. 
The  question  being  called  for,  notwithstanding  so  ludi- 
crous an  appeal,  and  so  entirely  at  variance  with  the  ob- 
ject of  the  meeting,  after  much  awkward  objection,  was 
put  to  the  county,  and  carried  by  acclamation ! 

Of  the  labors  of  the  early  Jesuit  missionaries,  among 
the  Indians,  in  the  far  wildernesses  of  this  region,  few 
monuments  remain.  But  that  the  results  have,  in  some 
instances,  been  lasting,  we  have  at  least  one  interesting 

In  the  summer  of  1838  I  had  the  pleasure  of  visiting 
several  villages  of  Ottawas,  about  L'Arbre  Croche  and 
Traverse  Bays,  of  Lake  Michigan.  They  had  here 
formed  several  agricultural  communities,  with  a  total 
population  of  more  than  one  thousand  souls.  All  around 
was  uninhabited  wilderness. 

They  dwelt  in  cabins  built  of  logs,  twenty  to  twenty- 
five  feet  square,  and  thatched  on  roof  and  walls  with 
cedar  bark,  solidly  constructed  and  comfortable. 

The  principal  village,  of  about  fifty  cabins,  was  arranged 
in  a  regular  street,  sixty  feet  wide,  the  houses  opposite 
each  other,  and  from  fifty  to  one  hundred  feet  apart,  and 
most  of  them  had  private  yards,  filled  with  currant 
bushes,  and  other  shrubbery. 

The  internal  appearance  was  equally  neat.  There 
were  several  apartments,  and  the  walls  were  adorned 
with  highly-colored  pictures. 

Upon  the  height,  above  the  village,  stood  the  Mission 


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Church,  a  building  of  considerable  size,  with  the  dwell- 
ing of  the  priest  adjoining,  and  in  front  a  large  white 

The  farm,  on  the  upland,  was  worked  in  common,  and 
fine  crops  of  Indian  corn  and  potatoes  were  growing. 

The  dress  of  these  Indian  communists  consisted  of  a 
mixture  of  the  white  and  Indian  costumes;  for  with 
the  savage  the  taste  for  leggins,  and  ornamental  work 
in  the  native  style,  never  yields  to  his  progress  in  civil- 

This  simple  community  was  still  far  from  any  settle- 
ment of  the  white  man,  and  it  seemed  as  if  here  at  least 
the  first  seeds  of  Christianity,  planted  by  the  zealous 
labors  of  the  Jesuit  fathers,  among  these  children  of  the 
forest,  had  blossomed  into  a  little  flower  of  civilization 
and  borne  fruit. 

It  is  probably  two  centuries  since  this  germ  was  planted. 
More  than  a  century  ago  fehe  community  was  visited  by 
the  English  trader,  Alexander  Henry  (1761),  and  I 
quote  his  brief  account,  as  showing  how  firmly  rooted 
it  then  was. 

"At  the  entrance  of  Lake  Michigan,  and  at  about 
twenty  miles  to  the  west  of  Fort  Michilimackinaw,  is  the 
village  of  L*Arbre  Croche,  inhabited  by  a  band  of  Otta- 
was,  boasting  of  two  hundred  and  fifty  fighting  men. 
This  is  the  seat  of  the  Jesuit  mission  of  St.  Ignace  de 
Michilimackinac,  and  the  people  are  partly  baptized  and 
partly  not.  The  missionary  resides  on  a  farm  attached 
to  the  mission,  and  situated  between  the  village  and  the 
fort,  both  of  which  are  under  his  care.  The  Ottawas  of 
L'Arbre  Croche,  who,  when  compared  with  the  Chippe- 
was,  appear  to   be  much  advanced  in  civilization,  grow 


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maize  for  the  market  of  Michilimackinac,  where  this  com- 
modity is  depended  upon  for  provisioning  the  canoes/*  ^ 

Some  young  men  from  this  tribe,  as  well  as  the  Chip- 
pewas,  were  sent  to  schools  in  the  States,  and  received 
a  liberal  education.  They  were  not  behind  white  schol- 
ars in  aptitude  or  capacity.  I  was  acquainted  with  one 
who  adopted  the  law  for  his  profession,  establishing  him- 
self, I  believe,  at  Mackinac ;  and,  although  I  am  unable 
to  aver  that  he  was  eminent  as  a  lawyer,  I  do  know  that 
few  surpassed  him  in  refined  eloquence. 

Some  of  these  educated  Indians  were  unable  to  resist 
the  charms  with  which  the  greenwood  had  impressed 
their  youthful  imaginations,  and,  after  some  years  of  trial, 
abandoned  their  civilization,  and  returned  to  the  wild 
life  of  their  ancestors. 


I  would  here  say  a  few  words  in  regard  to  the  policy 
pursued  by  the  United  States  Government  towards  the 
Indians.  The  difficulties  in  the  way  of  doing  them  exact 
justice  are  very  apparent.  So  little  form  of  government 
exists  among  them ;  so  limited,  uncertain,  and  often  fee- 
ble, is  the  authority  of  the  chiefs,  that  the  binding  force 
of  a  treaty  signed  by  those  calling  themselves  such,  is 
open  to  much  doubt.  It  is  not  to  be  wondered  at  that 
these  are  often  repudiated  by  large  portions  of  tribes, 
which  are  supposed  to  be  held  by  their  obligations,  and 

*  This  once  isolated  Indian  mission  and  flourishing  settlement  of  Otta- 
was  is  now  (188.6)  usurped  by  a  white  man's  village — a  well-frequented 
watering-place — where  tasteful  cottages  are  embowered  amid  the  trees. 
Though  the  Catholic  mission  remains,  most  of  the  Indians  have  been  re- 
moved to  a  "  Reservation " ;  their  communistic  community  broken  up, 
and  the  farm  abandoned  to  modern  agriculture. 


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that,  in  fact,  treaties  are  a  very  imperfect  expression  of 
the  will  of  a  people  who  recognize  no  law  which  is  op- 
posed to  the  independent  judgment  and  consent  of  indi- 

Nor  is  it  easy  to  ascertain  the  exact  limits  of  Indian 
claims  to  title  or  occupancy,  in  the  conflicting  preten- 
sions of  different  tribes. 

But  however  ill  defined  these  rights  may  be,  the 
Indian  is  as  jealous  of  any  encroachment  upon  them,  as 
civilized  man  is  of  any  infringement  of  his  claims. 

Moreover,  he  sees  himself  continually  being  deprived 
of  them.  He  sees  mile  after  mile  of  territory,  which 
was  once  the  recognized  land  of  his  ancestors,  and  the 
hunting-grounds  of  his  youth,  in  the  remorseless  grasp  of 
another  and  hated  race  ;  even  the  graves  of  his  fathers — 
objects  of  veneration  amounting  to  superstition — swept 
from  him.  He  sees  whole  tribes  of  his  kindred  under- 
going a  gradual  extinction, — a  warning  of  his  own  fate. 
His  means  of  subsistence  are  reduced  ;  the  provisions 
and  payments  promised  by  treaty  stipulations,  and 
upon  which  he  relied  for  alleviation  of  his  growing 
wants,  are  fraudulently  withheld,  or  misapplied.  He 
knows  no  one  to  whom  he  can  apply  for  redress,  and  his 
appeals,  or  claims  to  sympathy,  are  treated  with  con- 
tempt by  the  increasing  bands  of  hardy  settlers  that  are 
forming  a  cordon  around  his  narrow  possessions. 

Can  we  wonder  that  he  is  often  driven,  in  his  igno- 
rance and  exasperation,  to  desperate  methods  of  redress ; 
to  secret  and  violent  means  of  retaliation?  That  con- 
flicts occur  between  individuals  subjected  to  these 
grievances,  enhanced  by  the  irregular  advances  of  the 
whites  and  the  settlers  on  the  frontiers,  in  which  both 
parties  are  aggressors?      That  tribes  band  together  in 


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the  vain  effort  to  check  the  invasion,  and  to  regain  their 
ancient  liberties  ? 

History  records  with  admiration  the  deeds  of  a  Tell,  a 
Leonidas,  a  Washington,  in  shaking  off  the  yoke  which 
tyranny  had  imposed  upon  a  people.  Shall  we  regard  as 
less  dignified,  just  and  heroic,  the  efforts  of  a  Philip,  a 
Pontiac,  and  a  Tecumseh,  to  restore  to  their  people 
their  anci^ent  freedom  ?  Shall  we  withhold  our  sympathy, 
because  a  wild  and  ignorant  race  are  stimulated  to  occa- 
sional savage  barbarities  ? 

I  am  not  one  of  those  who  see  in  the  Indian  only  the 
being  he  has  been  painted  by  poetic  minds.  There  is  a 
halo  of  romantic  light  which  rests  upon  his  name  and 
story,  and  lingers  about  his  retreating  form.  It  gives  a 
glow  to  the  colors  with  which  the  philanthropist  and 
the  poet  love  to  illuminate  his  few  hardy  virtues,  and 
invests  them  with  many  noble  and  heroic  qualities. 

The  wildness  and  solitude  of  his  abode;  his  simple 
and  hospitable  life;  the  expressive  melody  of  his  lan- 
guage*; above  all,  the  traditionary  tales  and  stories  of 
wild  wanderings  and  savage  feats,  clothed  with  the  im- 
agery of  imaginative  and  enthusiastic  minds,  and  with 
the  illusions  of  poetry,  have  served  to  convey  many 
erroneous  impressions.  It  is  soothing  to  human  pride  to 
dwell  upon  uncultivated  virtues,  and  to  picture  human- 
ity clothed  in  so  fair  a  garb  by  the  hand  of  nature. 

But,  in  truth,  the  virtues  of  the  Indian  are  few  and 
simple ;  his  failings  such  as  are  little  in  accord  with  the 
standard  of  civilization. 

The  Indian  in  a  state  of  nature  is  cruel  and  vindictive. 
He  delights  in  war.  His  art  is  to  take  advantage  of  his 
adversary,  by  every  species  of  deceit ;  to  pursue  him 
with  relentless  hatred ;  to  waylay,  and  to  murder  him  in 


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the  dead  of  night ;  exposing  his  own  person  as  little  as 
possible  in  open  combat ;  and,  if  his  victim  be  cap- 
tured, to  put  an  end  to  his  miserable  existence  by  lin- 
gering tortures.  Revenge  is  a  virtue  to  the  savage  mind. 
Even  his  generosity  is  often  the  offering  of  one  who 
has  little  to  give,  and  expects  much  in  return. 

Among  them,  woman — the  pride  of  civilized  life — is 
a  drudge  and  a  slave.  At  war  with  each  other,  the 
tribes  have,  even  among  themselves,  little  of  fixed  and 
recognize'd  title  to  the  lands  they  occupy.  They  wander 
like  ships  upon  a  desert  ocean,  leaving  scarcely  the  trace 
of  passing  humanity  ;  their  meetings  are  more  often  the 
interchange  of  the  war-whoop  and  the  scalping-knife 
than  the  friendly  greetings  of  brethren. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  superiority  of  man  in  his  civil- 
ized state  over  the  savage  seems  almost  immeasurable. 
His  physical  strength  and  powers  of  endurance  are  in- 
creased, his  intellectual  faculties  are  more  acute,  and 
his  capacity  for  advancement  in  the  arts  of  life  are  far 
beyond  that  of  the  savage. 

He  is  also  a  land  worker.  The  territory  which  is 
required  for  the  support  of  a  single  hunter  will  maintain 
a  thousand  agriculturists.  He  builds  cities,  and  forms 
constituted  governments. 

His  wants  become  commensurate  with  his  enlarged 
capacities.  Civilization  has  given  him  a  far-reaching 
spirit  of  enterprise,  which  demands  and  must  occupy  a 
more  extended  field  of  operation.  Confined  to  the  nar- 
row limits  of  primitive  life,  forbidden  to  exercise  sover- 
eignty beyond  the  little  sphere  of  immediate  necessity, 
if  conflicting  with  savage  claims,  he  must  be  doomed 
forever  to  repress  those  powers  which,  if  left  free  to 
expand,  would  turn  solitudes  into  cities,  and  convert  the 


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earth  itself,  and  the  ocean,  into  the  magnificent  domain 
of  mind.  No  sublime  applications  of  science  would 
open  the  treasures  locked  up  in  the  earth ;  the  arts  and 
the  use  of  metals  would  be  unknown  ;  the  laws  of  matter, 
now  subservient  to  our  use,  would  be  mysteries ;  no 
commerce  would  whiten  the  sea,  and  carry  from  peo- 
ple to  people,  from  clime  to  clime,  the  productions  of 
far  distant  nations,  and  the  discoveries  of  intellectual 
man.  The  command  of  Jehovah  himself,  to  **  multiply 
and  replenish  the  earth,  and  subdue  it,**  would  be  a  dead 
letter  on  the  Statute  Book  of  Deity ! 

Such  is  the  course  of  reasoning  which  has  led  the 
wisest  of  American  statesmen,  and  the  ablest  of  her  jur- 
ists, to  recognize  in  the  Indian  tribes — thinly  scattered 
over  an  immense  extent  of  territory — only  a  very  qual- 
ified title  to  the  soil.  They  hold,  that  to  the  civilized 
race  belongs  the  right  to  extinguish  the  Indian  title  and 
occupancy,  by  purchase,  or  even  by  conquest ;  that  the 
very  existence  of  political  societies  involves  permanent 
rights  of  property,  and  of  sovereignty,  over  the  soil,  as 
against  the  feebly  held  and  uncertain  tenure  of  the  sav- 
age ;  and  that  the  peculiar  character  and  habits  of  the 
Indian  nations  render  them  incapable  of  sustaining  any 
other  relations  with  the  whites  than  that  of  dependence 
and  pupilage. 

Yet  it  is  easy  for  the  strong  to  make  laws  over  the 
weak.  To  the  credit  of  a  Christian  nation,  the  right 
thus  laid  down  has  been  exercised  by  the  United  States 
to  a  very  qualified  extent.  It  has  been  their  policy  to 
treat  the  Indians  as  free  and  independent  tribes,  compe- 
tent to  act  in  a  national  character,  and,  within  their  own 
territories,  owing  no  allegiance  to  the  municipal  laws  of 
the  whites.     They  have  recognized  the  various  tribes  as 


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treaty-making  powers,  and  in  the  purchase  of  their 
lands  it  has  been  the  aim  to  give  just  and  fair  equiva- 

An  omniscient  and  wise  providence  has  placed  in  our 
hands  the  fate  of  that  unfortunate  race.-  The  history  of 
the  past  tells  in  unmistakable  language  what  is  to  be 
the  final  consummation :  that  the  Indian  is  destined  to 
fade  before  the  Anglo-Saxon,  until  the  now  wild  and 
warring  tribes  west  of  the  Mississippi  become  as  those 
who.  peopled  the  land  east  of  that  once  mighty  barrier, 
and  who  have  perished  before  our  eyes. 

If  such  is  to  be  their  fate,  before  that  event  occurs 
we  have  our  duty  to  perform.  We  can  at  least  alleviate 
their  downfall.  We  can  exercise  that  justice  which  is 
the  best  prerogative  of  power. 

The  plan  of  collecting  the  scattered  tribes  into 
reserves,  from  which  the  evil  influence  of  the  whites 
shall  be,  as  far  as  practicable,  excluded,  was  no  doubt 
the  wisest  that  our  fathers  were  able  to  devise.  But  the 
humanity  of  the  Government  has  not  controlled  the 
action  of  individuals.  Were  these  equally  interested 
with  the  Government  in  carrying  out  its  paternal  meas- 
ures, the  success  of  the  plan,  in  the  increased  happiness 
and  prolonged  existence  of  those  it  aims  to  protect, 
might  be  secured.  But  there  are  never  wanting  unprin- 
cipled and  interested  men,  who  excite  evil  passions, 
encourage  rebellions,  overreach  in  bargains,  and  rob  the 
pensioners  of  their  annual  stipends.  Nor  can  the  Gov- 
ernment always  prevent  iniquity  in  its  agents,  who  have 
frequently  and  outrageously  abused  their  trusts. 

The  system  hitherto  pursued,  of  Indian  agencies, — 
mere  political  appointments,  with  whom  the  large  oppor- 


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tunities  for  speculation  and  gain  are  the  main  induce- 
ment,— is  most  objectionable. 

In  many  cases — eventually,  in  all — ^the  duties  of  these 
agents  may  be  more  safely  and  wisely  intrusted  to  com- 
missioners from  the  tribes; — to  men  selected  by  them- 
selves^ of  their  own  race,  having  education,  authority, 
and  the  confidence  of  the  red  men.  This  would,  at  least, 
lift  from  us,  to  great  extent,  the  responsibility  of  unfair 
dealing.  It  would  bring  the  half-civilized  tribes  into 
nearer  and  more  direct  relationship  to  our  Government. 
It  would  make  their  dependence  less  felt,  and  develop 
their  capacity  for  self-government. 

Nor  has  Congress  shown  that  regard  for  the  faith  of  the 
nation,  pledged  in  the  numerous  Indian  treaties,  which 
is  consistent  with  the  good-will  that  originally  inspired 
them.  How  many  wars  might  have  been  avoided  but 
for  the  neglect  of  Congress  to  pass  the  called  for  appro- 
priations, and  for  the  niggardly  and  dishonest  withhold- 
ing of  supplies  that  were  part  of  the  contract. 

Admitting  that  these  wars  have  been  provoked  chiefly 
through  the  aggressions  of  white  settlers,  desperadoes 
and  thieves,  still  how  many  a  murderous  outbreak  would 
have  been  prevented  had  these  unlawful  acts  been  fol- 
lowed by  prompt  redress  on  the  part  of  the  Government. 
The  law's  delay,  the  false  representations  of  interested 
parties,  the  insufficiency  of  our  army,  the  race-hatred, 
and  murders  unavenged  by  the  proper  authorities,  have 
often  left  the  Indians  no  redress  save  a  resort  to  their 
own  code  of  vengeance. 

And  when  treaties  have  been  broken  by  the  unauthor- 
ized acts  of  our  own  people  what  has  the  Government 
done  ?  Instead  of  avenging  the  wrong,  it  has  been  but 
too   ready  to   make   new   treaties,  followed  usually  by 


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removal  to  another  reservation,  only  to  be  again  broken 
in  upon,  and  succeeded  by  another  new  settlement, 
always  in  favor  of  the  whites,  and  in  disregard  of  the 
interests  of  the  weaker  party. 

There  are  scattered  among  us  many  Indian  commu- 
nities which  have  adopted  an  agricultural  life,  and  the 
dress  and  mode  of  living  of  the  whites.  Many  exam- 
ples show  that  the  Indian  has  more  capacity  and  will  for 
these  influences  than  it  is  usual  to  credit  to  him.  They 
encourage  the  belief  that  he  is  not  averse  to  work,  and 
to  civilized  requirements,  if  only  sufficient  incentive  be 
set  before  him,  and  he  can  have  assurance  that  his  newly 
acquired  privileges  will  be  confirmed  to  him.  But, 
driven  from  one  settled  home  to  another  and  unknown 
one  at  the  caprice  of  his  white  neighbors,  who  crowd 
upon  and  covet  his  lands  ;  subjected  to  the  yielding  im- 
policy of  the  Government ;  knowing  how  little  depend- 
ence can  be  placed  upon  reiterated  promises  made  to 
him  in  solemn  treaties,  and  feeling  that  nothing  is  stable 
in  his  situation,  is  it  strange  that  his  advance  in  civiliza- 
tion is  slow  ?  ,  Is  it  not  rather  strange  that  he  has  accom- 
plished so  much  ? 

The  experiment  is  yet  almost  untried  of  what  may  be 
accomplished  by  bringing  this  child  of  the  forest  under 
the  operation  of  our  laws,  and  endowing  him  with  all  the 
rights  and  privileges  of  citizenship.  This  will  not  be  the 
work  of  a  year,  or  of  many  years.  Barbarian  instincts 
cannot  be  subdued  in  a  generation.  There  will  be  many 
failures,  but  the  habit  will  be  acquired,  gradually  but 
surely.  Tribal  systems  will  give  place  to  forms  of  gov- 
ernment better  suited  to  the  present  condition  of  the 
tribes  and  to  their  future. 

It  is  gratifying  to  know  that  the  guaranteed  rights  of 


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the  Indians  are  being  more  respected  by  those  into 
whose  hands  are  devolved  the  execution  of  the  laws,  and 
that  the  chief  executive  power  is  actively  exerted  in 
preventing  individual  encroachments.  As  a  people,  we 
are  awaking  to  a  clear  sense  of  our  duty.  The  Board 
of  Indian  Commissioners  is  faithfully  urging  upon  Con- 
gress the  fulfilment  of  obligations,  and  a  more  wise  legis- 
lation. Their  last  report  states,  that  the  year  1884  has 
been  for  all  the  Indians  one  of  peace  and  quiet ;  that 
there  have  been  no  outbreaks,  no  need  of  a  "  Peace 
Commission,"  but  a  year  of  steady  progress  in  industry, 
in  education,  in  material  prosperity  and  in  civilized 

Now  let  us  take  advantage  of  this  better  appreciation 
to  do  our  whole  duty.  It  seems  to  me  that  the  wisdom 
of  experience  requires  that  we  should  abolish  the  old 
treaty  system,  which  has  so  often  proved  a  failure. 
Nevertheless,  obligations  already  incurred  should  be 
sacredly  fulfilled.  If  modification  be  desirable,  it  should 
be  made  in  accordance  with  the  wishes  of  the  weaker 
party,  not  of  those  most  clamorous  for  it. 

As  far  and  as  fast  as  possible,  and  with  their  full  con- 
nivance, the  Indians  should  be  brought  into  the  same 
relations  with  the  Government  as  ourselves,  where  tribes 
are  so  far  advanced  as  to  demand  it.  Land  should  be 
allotted  to  them  in  severalty  rather  than  in  common, 
so  that  no  individual  can  be  deprived  of  his  land  by 
unjust  or  mistaken  action  on  the  part  of  chiefs,  whose 
authority  is  always  doubtful,  and  of  uncertain  value. 
This  plan  has  succeeded  well  where  the  people  are  fitted 
for  it. 

The  tribes  on  the  reservations  should  be  induced  to 
form   communities,   constituted,   as   nearly  as   may   be. 


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after  our  township,  county  and  state  governments. 
Encourage  settled  habits  of  cultivation  of  the  soil,  and 
raising  of  cattle.  Give  all  needed  facilities  for  educa- 
tion, and  for  forming  industrial  and  civilized  habits. 
Especially  afford  to  the  willing  and  industrious  oppor- 
tunity to  acquire  homesteads,  securing  to  them  such  a 
title  to  the  land  they  occupy  that  no  power  but  their 
own  can  deprive  them  of  it.  As  one  tribe  after  another 
becomes  prepared  for  it,  admit  them  to  the  rights  of 
citizenship,  on  a  full  equality  in  every  respect  with  those 
who  now  enjoy  its  benefits. 

But  let  the  problem  be  worked  out  by  the  Indians 
themselves.  Let  citizenship  be  offered  as  a  boon,  to 
those  only  who  are  fitted  for  it  and  desire  it.  To  this 
end  instructions  in  the  public  schools,  where  young 
Indians  are  taught,  should  aim  to  educate  teachers  and 
to  prepare  the  pupils — who  are  apt  scholars — to  under- 
stand the  rights  and  duties  of  citizens. 

I  will  not  pretend  to  lay  down  the  forms  of  law  under 
which  these  results  are  to  be  attained,  nor  to  predict  the 
time  when  all  will  be  accomplished.  These  must  de- 
pend upon  trial  and  experience.  But  let  the  end  be 
ever  held  in  view,  and  let  the  full,  prompt  and  active 
protection  of  the  law  be  afforded  against  whoever  and 
whatever  seeks  to  obstruct  the  laws,  and  to  divert  the 
nation  from  its  just  course. 

Under  wise  regulations  these  advantages  might  be 
extended  to  all  the  tribes  who  come  within  our  present 
agency  system.  Let  them  form  a  necessary  part  of  that 
system.  And  instead  of  treating  the  Indian  as  a  savage 
beast,  to  be  kept  under  our  civil  and  military  control, 
lest  he  should  break  away  and  tear  our  people  to  pieces, 
^  Jet--our   people  be  taught  to  recognize  him  as  having 


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common  privileges  with  ourselves ;  to  direct  his  energies 
into  the  channels  of  law  and  of  good  government ;  to 
wean  him,  by  encouragement  and  example,  from  habits 
of  barbarism  to  industricd  occupations. 

It  may  be  considered  as  certain,  that  the  old  system 
will  not  avail  to  save  the  perishing  objects  of  its  care 
from  future  misery  and  final  extinction. 

The  wave  of  population  has  continued  to  flow  west- 
ward, unchecked  by  the  great  Mississippi,  and  the  large 
Indian  reservations — already  coveted  and  surrounded — 
are  even  now  being  broken  in  upon  by  the  same  insati- 
able race  that  has  driven  their  occupants  from  the 
homes  of  their  fathers,  on  the  rivers  which  flow  into  the 

Already,  far  beyond  these  **  Indian  Territories,'*  Saxon 
energies  have  carried  the  arts  of  civilization  and  its  ever 
unsatisfied  demands  along  the  shores  of  the  Pacific,  and 
into  the  strongholds  of  the  Rocky  Mountains.  Even  in 
the  distant  homes  of  the  desert  are  occurring  the  same 
conflict  of  interests,  with  the  same  results  which  have 
attended  our  meetings  and  our  progress  hitherto. 

When  the  last  warring  tribes  shall  have  submitted  to 
treaties,  and  been  accorded  the  protection  of  territory 
set  apart  and  solemnly  guaranteed  to  their  exclusive  use, 
what  will  be  in  the  end  but  the  old  story, — the  influence 
of  bad  whites  ;  encroachments — under  various  pretences, 
and  with  fair  show — upon  their  lines  and  their  privileges ; 
robbery  (under  another  name),  by  degrees,  of  their  weak 
possessions ;  until  they  are  exposed  to  all  the  evils  from 
which  they  have  fled. 

It  may  be  the  inscrutable  plan  of  Providence  that  this 
primitive  race  shall  become  extinct,  and  that  civilized 
man,  with  his  cultivated  powers   and  larger  means  for 


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carrying  out  the  designs  of  the  Creator  in  planting  here 
a  mighty  nation,  shall  supply  his  place. 

It  is  sad  to  think  that,  in  a  few  years,  will  have  utterly 
perished  from  the  face  of  this  goodly  land  every  vestige 
of  its  former  proprietors.  Like  the  wild  beasts  which 
they  hunted,  they,  too,  pass  from  sight  and  from  mem- 
ory, leaving  no  memorials,  except  in  the  names  which 
their  poetic  language  has  bestowed  upon  the  natural 
features  of  their  country.  Powerful  nations  of  antiquity 
have  been  overwhelmed  in  the  desolating  march  of  bar- 
barous hordes,  but  the  Indian  has  been  swept  by  the  ad- 
vancing wave  of  civilization.  No  mighty  monumental 
ruin,  withstanding  the  desolations  of  time,  and  mantling 
with  verdure  in  its  decay,  bears  his  history  and  his  deeds 
to  a  future  age.  No  customs  or  laws,  which  he  origi- 
nated, mingle  the  existence  of  the  conquerors  with  the 
conquered.  A  few  mounds  of  earth  alone  remain,  evi- 
dence of  his  former  being ;  and  these  the  ploughshare  will 
soon  level  with  the  surrounding  fields. 

Mindful  of  the  mutability  of  fortune  which  may  be  in 
store  for  us,  their  now  powerful  successors,  let  us  perform 
towards  this  perishing  people  the  whole  duty  which  our 
civilization  and  our  Christianity  require. 

And  if.  finally,  nothing  can  avert  the  threatened  doom, 
but,  like  that  now  forgotten  people  whom  their  own  has 
superseded,  they  also  are  destined  to  be  extinguished ;  if, 
one  by  one,  each  remaining  tribe  must  undergo  the  fate 
of  the  Delaware  and  the  Mohegan ;  when  some  Uncas  of 
the  vanished  race  shall  stand  upon  the  lonely  burial 
mound  of  his  forefathers,  to  take  his  last  survey  of  their 
once  happy  home,  let  him  carry  no  reproach  to  the 
land  of  spirits,  that  anything  has  been  neglected  by  us, 
consistent  with  the  welfare  of  his  race,  or  the  preserva- 
tion of  our  national  honor. 


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f  PART  I. 



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.  .  .  .  "  Are  they  here— 
The  dead  of  other  days  ? — 

....  Let  the  mighty  mounds 
That  overlook  the  rivers,  or  that  rise 
In  the  dim  forest,  crowded  with  old  oaks, 
Answer.    A  race,  that  long  has  passed  away, 
Built  them ; — ^a  disciplined  and  populous  race 
Heap*d,  with  long  toil,  the  earth,  while  yet  the  Greek 
Was  hewing  the  Pentelicus  to  forms 
Of  sjrmmetry,  and  rearing  on  its  rock 
The  glittering  Parthenon.    These  ample  fields 
Nourished  their  harvests." 



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Part  I. — General  Character  and  Distribution  of 
THE  Works. 

FEW  works  of  a  pre-historic  people  comparable  to 
those  found  in  Ohio,  and  elsewhere  to  the  south- 
ward, occur  in  Michigan. 

Some  scattered  earthworks  are  found,  of  whose  origin 
and  uses  the  tribes  of  Indians  living  here  at  the  first  ad- 
vent of  the  white  man  had  no  knowledge.  They  are  of 
far  less  extent  than  those  of  Ohio,  and  indicate  a  people 
of  different  customs. 

Circular  earthworks  occur  here  and  there,  but  they  are 
of  small  size,  and  referable  to  a  different  purpose  from 
the  large  circle-mounds  of  the  Ohio.  There  are  no  trun- 
cated mounds,  such  as  those  found  further  south,  and 
supposed  to  have  constituted  foundations  or  terraces  for 
the  dwellings  of  chiefs,  or  for  religious  edifices.  No 
long  earth-built  ways,  connecting  the  larger  circles  or 
squares,  occur  in  Michigan.  Nor  are  there  any  defen- 
sive works  on  so  grand  a  scale  as  those  in  the  Ohio 

A  few  earth-mounds  occur,  some  of  which  may  be  re- 
ferred to  a  defensive  purpose. 

One  of  these  is  found — or  was  found,  for  the  desolating 
plough  has  reigned  rampant  over  it  for  the  last  thirty 
years — on  the  Clinton  River,  in  Macomb  County,  and  is 
thus  described  to  me  by  Mr.  J.  E.  Day,  of  Romeo.    It  lay 

20 1 


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between  the  north  branch  of  Clinton  River  and  a  small . 
spring  tributary,  and  was  about  twenty  rods  distant  from 
either  stream,  and  on  a  plateau  elevated  fifteen  feet 
above.  It  consisted  of  a  nearly  circular  embankment  four 
to  five  feet  high,  and  enclosed  about  three  acres.  The 
diameters  were  350  and  400  feet  respectively.  On  the 
outer  side  was  a  wide  ditch.  There  were  three  openings 
or  gateways,  each  twenty  feet  wide,  and  protected  within 
by  a  mound  so  placed  as  to  shut  off  from  without  all 
view  of  the  interior.  A  small  lake  within  the  enclosure 
supplied  water  to  the  garrison. 

Between  this  "  fort "  and  the  smaller  stream  were  a 
large  number  of  tumuli,  in  an  irregular  cluster,  each  of 
which  contained  a  single  skeleton.  A  little  below  the 
junction  of  this  stream  with  the  Clinton  was  a  very  large 
tumulus,  surrounded  by  seven  smaller  ones  in  a  circle. 

In  situation  and  general  character  this  work  bears  con- 
siderable analogy  to  the  defensive  works  of  Northern 
Ohio.  The  embankment  may  have  been  crowned  with 
palisades,  and  the  interior  mounds  may  have  served  for 
observation,  as  well  as  defence,  to  a  village  within  the 
circle.  A  large  amount  of  broken  pottery  and  other 
relics  found  in  the  vicinity  seems  to  indicate  a  once  nu- 
merous population.  Nothing  is  known  which  would  in- 
dicate a  religious  purpose,  analogous  to  the  so-called 
"  sacred  enclosures  *'  of  Ohio.  In  all  the  north-western 
portion  of  this  county,  extensive  fields  or  gardens,  in 
which  the  cultivation  was  in  drills  or  rows,  may  still  be 
distinctly  traced. 

Near  the  mouth  of  this  river  occurs  another  similar 
work,  and  of  apparently  a  like  defensive  character. 

Mr.  Henry  Little,  in  one  of  several  papers  on  the 
Mounds,  published  in  the  Kalamazoo  Telegraph  in  1874, 

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mentions  an  ancient  work  in  Gilead,  Branch  County, 
which  may  with  some  probability  be  classed  as  defensive. 

"  It  was  an  earth  embankment,  one  end  starting  from 
the  waters  of  a  small  lake,  the  other  end  coming  around 
to  the  lake  at  a  point  considerably  distant  from  the  first. 
It  enclosed  an  excellent  spring  of  water." 

He  also  describes  an  earthwork  of  this  kind,  and  much 
more  extensive,  at  Three  Rivers,  in  St.  Joseph  County. 
"  The  Rocky  River  from  the  north,  and  Portage  Creek 
from  the  north-east,  unite  their  waters  with  the  St. 
Joseph,  but  a  few  rods  distant  from  each  other,  forming 
a  tract  of  land  in  the  shape  of  the  letter  V.  About  a 
mile  north  of  this  junction  was  an  artificial  earth  em- 
bankment, about  six  feet  high,  stretching  across  the 
plain,  from  Rocky  River  to  the  Portage.**  This  plain  is 
elevated  many  feet  above  these  streams,  and  with  this 
triple  defence  a  beleaguered  army  might  here  sustain 
itself  with  considerable  confidence  against  the  warfare 
of  savage  foes. 

This  defensive  work  has  a  peculiar  interest,  from  its 
vicinity  to  those  remarkable  evidences  of  ancient  labor, 
skill  and  taste,  denominated  the  "garden  beds,"  of 
which  a  description  is  given  elsewhere. 

Blois,  in  his  Gazetteer,  alludes  to  "  forts  of  the  square 
or  rectangular  kind,**  one  of  which  "  is  said  to  be  one  or 
two  miles  below  Marshall,  one  in  town  of  Prairie-Ronde, 
and  several  on  the  Kalamazoo.**  It  is  to  be  regretted 
that  no  traces  now  remain  of  these  structures. 

On  the  banks  of  the  St.  Joseph  River  I  remember  to 
have  seen,  in  1837,  a  circular  embankment  of  unknown 
origin.  It  was  of  small  size,  and  so  well  defined  that  I 
could  not  pass  it  unnoticed.  My  recollection,  however, 
does  not  enable  me  to  give  any  very  definite  description. 


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Mr.  Little,  in  the  papers  above  referred  to,  mentions 
an  antique  work  of  very  unusual  form.  Describing  a 
tumulus  on  Climax  Prairie,  he  adds,  "  South  of  the  mound 
and  in  the  edge  of  the  timber,  on  the  highest  part  of  a 
hill  or  eminence,  there  was  an  excavated  ringy  which 
formed  the  whole  of  a  perfect  circle,  and  enclosed  one 
and  a  half  acres.  The  excavated  hollow  was  about  one 
rod  wide  at  the  bottom  and  between  2  and  3  feet  deep. 
When  first  discovered,  forty  years  ago,  it  was  overgrown 
with  large  forest  trees.'* 

Circles  of  this  kind  are  very  rare.  Some  have  been 
found  in  Ohio,  and  I  remember  seeing  in  Wisconsin  an 
animal  form  made  in  intaglio^  instead  of  relief. 

The  ring  described  by  Mr.  Little  could  not  have  had  a 
military  purpose,  or  pains  would  not  have  been  taken  to 
remove  the  earth,  which,  if  thrown  up  as  an  embankment, 
would  have  assisted  such  an  object. 

A  circular  embankment  occurs  at  Springwells,  just 
below  Fort  Wayne.  Of  this  I  shall  give  a  detailed  de- 
scription on  a  future  page. 

Some  of  the  works  above  alluded  to  have  a  similar 
character  to  those  small  earthworks  found  in  the  vicinity 
of  Lake  Erie,  on  its  south  side,  and  extending  into  New 
York,  which  have  been  surveyed  and  described  by  Col. 
Charles  Whittlesey.  These  consist  of  embankments  with 
outer  ditches,  and  are  built  across  the  necks  of  the  up- 
lands between  ravines,  thus  aiding  to  render  a  small  piece 
of  land  easily  defended.  Their  purpose  as  works  of 
defence  cannot  be  mistaken. 

These  are  all  isolated  instances  of  comparatively  small 
defensive  works,  unconnected  with  each  other,  or  with 
any  plan  or  system,  like  those  series  of  forts  which  are 
found  in  Ohio  and  which  serve  for  the  protection  of  a 


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large  district.  It  is  probable  they  were  temporary  ref- 
uges, hastily  erected  against  some  sudden  inroad.  Pos- 
sibly they  were  the  last  refuge  of  an  agricultural  people, 
like  those  who  made  the  garden  beds.  This  great  emer- 
gency may  have  arisen  when  those  barbarous  hordes,  who 
occasioned  the  final  destruction  or  dispersion  of  the 
Mound-Builders  of  Ohio,  turned  their  victorious  arms 
upon  the  northern  race  of  peaceful  cultivators. 

Of  other  kinds  of  relics  of  a  past  race  Michigan  has 
more  abundant  examples. 

Tumuli  or  burial  mounds,  single  and  grouped,  are 
very  common  in  all  parts  of  the  peninsula.  Many  of 
these  were  in  use  by  the  Indian  tribes  inhabiting  the 
country  at  its  discovery  and  settlement  by  the  whites, 
and  some  continued  to  be  used  for  their  ancient  purposes 
for  a  long  time  afterward. 

As  I  propose  to  describe  with  some  particularity  those 
which  occur  in  the  immediate  vicinity  of  Detroit,  I  will 
content  myself  with  alluding  to  a  few  only  of  special 
interest,  elsewhere. 

By  far  the  finest  group  of  *  mounds  that  has  come  to 
my  knowledge  occurs  on  the  banks  of  Grand  River,  three 
miles  south  of  Grand  Rapids.  They  were  still  perfect 
when  the  writer  had  the  satisfaction  of  seeing  them  in 


The  largest  of  these  mounds  has  a  diameter  of  100 
feet,  and  a  height  of  15  feet  or  more  above  the  gen- 
eral surface.  Close  by  are  two  others  of  nearly  equal 
size,  all  very  regular  in  shape  and  conical.  They  are  in 
a  line  about  100  feet  apart,  and  500  feet  from  the  river. 
Around  them  cluster  seventeen  smaller  tumuli,  without 
regular  arrangement,  and  varying  in  height  from  eight 

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to  two  feet.  All  are  within  an  area  of  two  and  a  half 

This  group  occupies  the  first  terrace,  which  is  over- 
flowed in  high  water  to  the  foot  of  the  mounds.  It  lies 
in  the  shadow  of  the  ancient,  untrimmed  forest,  consist- 
ing principally  of  sugar  maples.  Trees  were  growing  on 
the  mounds  of  two  to  three  feet  diameter,  and  there 
were  evidences  of  still  older  ones  which  have  perished. 

Seven  of  these  tumuli  were  opened  during  the  year 
preceding  my  visit,  by  Captain  Coffinbury  and  others, 
and  among  them  one  of  the  largest.  This  was  found  to 
be  wholly  composed  of  the  richest  portions  of  the  sur- 
rounding alluvial  soil,  differing  in  this  respect  from  the 
others,  which  were  composed  of  the  gravel  of  the  uplands. 
No  relics  were  disclosed,  except  a  copper  awl.  Patches 
of  ochreous  earth  were  met  with,  a  bushel  in  a  place,  as 
though  dumped  from  a  basket.  The  absence  of  skele- 
tons in  this  tumulus,  and  the  red  earth,  together  with 
ashes,  mingled  with  comminuted  bone,  would  imply  that 
this  mound  was  appropriated  to  such  bodies  only  as  were 

Of  the  smaller  mounds,  six  were  opened.  In  all  skele- 
tons were  found,  generally  one  only  in  each,  and  all  were 
so  decayed  that  it  was  impossible  to  preserve  them. 
They  were  of  ordinary  size^  except  one,  which  is  pro- 
nounced gigantic,  the  proportions  "  indicating  a  stature  of 
seven  feet.*'  All  were  in  a  sitting  posture,  and  faced  to 
different  points. 

With  the  bones  were  many  relics,  the  lowest  mound 
yielding  the  richest  harvest.  Besides  the  usual  variety 
of  stone  arrow-  and  spear-heads,  were  several  copper 
needles,  and  a  copper  axe,  eight  inches  long  by  four 
wide,  and  one-fourth  iitch  thick,  quite  smooth  and  per- 


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feet ;  several  stone  pipes  and  marine  shells  were  also 
found.  Four  handsome  pots  constituted  the  most  inter- 
esting discovery.     These  will  be  alluded  to  hereafter. 

The  spot  occupied  by  this  interesting  group  of  tumuli, 
with  its  silent  surroundings,  lovely  in  its  seclusion  and 
grand  with  its  overshadowing  foliage,  impressed  my  mind 
strongly  with  the  poetical  character  of  that  race,  who 
combined  with  the  savage  life  such  a  sympathetic  love  of 

While  certain  tribes  of  the  red  man  in  historic  times 
are  known  to  have  made  frequent  use  for  intrusive  burial 
of  mounds  which  they  found  in  the  land,  it  is  the  general 
opinion  that  the  era  of  their  original  fabrication  belongs 
to  a  more  remote  past.  We  can  certainly  point  to  an 
exception  in  this  State. 

On  the  beautiful  prairie  of  White  Pigeon,  and  near 
the  village,  I  saw,  many  years  ago,  a  tumulus  of  consid- 
erable size.  It  was  found  by  the  first  whites  who  settled 
there  in  1826,  and  tradition  asserted  that  it  enshrined  the 
remains  of  a  celebrated  chief  of  the  Pottawatomies  who 
formerly  occupied  that  part  of  the  country,  and  who 
buried  him  there  a  century  before  the  date  of  the  white 
settlement.  He  was  still  held  in  such  estimation  that 
thousands  of  his  tribe  came  annually  to  pay  their  tribute 
of  respect  at  his  grave,  until  the  remnant  were  moved 
by  the  U.  S.  Government  to  Kansas,  in  1841. 

A  different  mode  of  entombing  their  great  men  was 
practised  by  the  Indians  inhabiting  Western  Michigan,  in 
the  early  part  of  this  century. 

In  1837,  I  saw  on  the  summit  of  a  lofty  bluff  overlook- 
ing the  river  Kalamazoo,  the  grave  of  the  renowned 
chief,  Wacousta.  He  was  placed  in  a  sitting  posture,  and 
the  body  surrounded  with  a  crib  of  logs,  strongly  put 


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together,  and  entirely  above  ground.  No  attempt  had 
been  made  at  raising  an  earth  mound.  The  skeleton  was 
entire  and  still  partially  enveloped  in  its  integuments. 

Possibly  this  disposition  may  have  been  but  tempa 
rary,  with  a  view  to  removal  of  the  bones,  after  the  flesh 
had  decomposed,  to  some  general  resting-place  of  the 

Among  the  mounds  of  the  Mississippi  Valley,  and  fur- 
ther south,  are  occasionally  found  some  built  of  stones. 
An  instance  of  a  similar  construction  is  reported  to  me 
by  Mr.  Day,  of  Romeo,  associated  with  the  ancient  re- 
mains in  Macomb  County.  He  says :  *'  In  several  places 
in  this  vicinity  were  found  mounds  made  of  stones,  nicely 
piled  up  to  a  height  of  four  to  five  feet,  like  a  hay-cock. 
They  were  entirely  alone,  and  more  than  a  mile  distant 
from  the  group  of  earth-mounds  elsewhere  mentioned." 

One  of  these  stone-mounds  was  opened  forty  years 
ago.  "  It  was  four  feet  in  height  and  placed  in  a  circular 
excavation  of  two  feet  depth  by  four  feet  diameter. 
The  stones  were  nicely  placed,  and  had  been  preserved 
in  shape  by  a  tree  which  grew  on  the  summit,  and  threw 
its  roots  over  the  sides  of  the  pile.  The  stones  being  re- 
moved, portions  of  a^human  skeleton  were  exhumed." 

Piles  of  stone  are  mentioned  by  Mr.  Schoolcraft  as  ex- 
isting on  the  Island  of  Mackinac,  and  supposed  by  him 
to  have  been  gathered  by  the  ancient  race  for  the  pur- 
pose of  clearing  the  land  for  cultivation.  But,  although 
ancient  fields  exist  near,  Mr.  Day  is  certain  that  the  stone 
piles  mentioned  by  him  were  for  a  different  purpose, 
and  the  discovery  of  the  skeleton  serves  to  confirm  his 
opinion.  My  own  theory  is,  that  the  stones  were  heaped 
about  the  body  for  protection,  until  the  time  should  ar- 


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rive  for  a  general  inhumation  or  ^*  Feast  of  the  dead/* — 
a  custom  which  I  shall  notice  presently. 

The  earth-tumuli  in  Michigan  are  nearly  always  found 
in  some  picturesque  situation,  on  or  near  the  banks  of  the 
larger  streams,  often  on  some  promontory  that  com- 
manded a  lengthened  prospect  of  the  Indian*s  natural 
highway,  and  which  was  probably  his  favorite  resort 
while  living.  But  these  places  know  him  no  more ;  his 
people  have  long  ago  departed  ;  his  history  is  lost  to 
tradition,  and  even  his  tomb  tells  but  an  uncertain  story 
of  his  former  being. 

"  Perhaps  on  banks  of  many  a  stream, 
Sloping  beneath  the  day's  warm  beam, 
Tribes  may  have  lived  from  sire  to  son, 
And  down  through  generations  run, 
Lapng  their  bones  within  the  mound 
Where  all  their  gathered  sires  were  found, 

And  yet  the  spot  no  sign  disclose, — 
Save  this  rude  mound, — that  ever  there 
The  hum  of  men  had  filled  the  air, 

And  broke  through  Nature's  wild  repose." 

These  lines  from  "  Ontwa,**  a  poem  by  our  distin- 
guished townsman,  the  late  Col.  Henry  Whiting,  well 
illustrates  the  desolation  which  has  fallen  upon  the 
race,  whose  sole  monuments  are  mounds  of  earth. 

The  tumuli  are  monuments  to  the  dead  as  well  as 
graves.  It  is  almost  certain  that  one  or  more  human 
skeletons  will  be  found  entombed,  unless  the  bones  of  the 
occupants  have  perished  through  time,  or  from  crema- 
tion. Original  burials  seem  to  have  been  made  at  or  be- 
low the  natural  surface,  and  the  bodies  are  found  both  in 
horizontal  and  sitting  postures,  and  little  regard  seems  to 
have  been  paid  to  the  direction  in  which  the  face  is 
turned.     So  unscientific  has  been  the  usual  mode  of  un- 


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earthing  these  tombs,  that  the  information  they  convey- 
to  us  of  the  character  of  the  ancient  occupants,  by  crani- 
um and  other  measurements,  is  far  less  definite  and  cer 
tain  than  could  be  desired.  Amid  the  diversity  of 
statement  as  to  reported  and  actual  finds,  I  think  the 
conclusion  may  be  drawn,  so  far  as  relates  to  the  aborig- 
inal Wolverines,  that  they  closely  resembled  the  historic 
races ;  although  several  very  prognathous  skulls  and  the 
"  flattest  tibia  on  record,"  found  by  Mr.  H.  Gillman  in 
the  mounds  at  Springwells,  might  seem  to  refer  them 
to  a  lower  type. 

When  mounds  are  opened  in  most  cases,  it  is  impos- 
sible to  determine  from  the  reports  whether  the  skeletons 
found  belong  to  original  or  intrusive  burials.  According 
to  some  accounts,  the  skeletons  indicate  a  race  of  very 
inferior  size ;  according  to  others,  they  show  a  race  of 
giants.  The  elasticity  of  these  ancient  relics,  to  suit  the 
zeal  of  the  narrator,  is  truly  wonderful.  On  one  occasion 
I  accompanied  an  old  pioneer  and  worthy  Judge  to  visit 
several  mounds  in  Western  Michigan.  My  guide  gravely 
informed  me  that,  twenty  years  before,  he  had  dug  from 
one  of  these  mounds  a  skeleton  which,  when  laid  out 
upon  the  turf,  measured  eleven  feet,  eight  and  three- 
quarter  inches,  and  the  skull  of  which  fitted  entirely  over 
the  judicial  head  !  The  Cardiff  Giant  was  a  few  inches 
longer  than  this,  but  as  he  was  entirely  of  gypsum  it  was 
quite  easy  to  fabricate  any  proportions  which  the  gulli- 
bility of  the  public  could  swallow. 

While  .the  Michigan  mounds  contain  the  usual  com- 
plement of  stone  axes,  arrow-heads  and  spear-points,  with 
knives  and  other  implements  of  chert,  it  is  a  little  singu- 
lar that  so  few  tools  of  copper  have  been  found.  Finds 
of  this  kind  in  Wisconsin  have  far  exceeded  those  from 


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our  soils,  and  this  would  seem  to  indicate  less  acquaint- 
ance with  the  copper  quarries  of  Lake  Superior,  on  the 
part  of  the  ancient  inhabitants  of  our  peninsula,  than 
among  the  dwellers  west  of  Lake  Michigan.  In  connec- 
tion with  the  copper  axe  mentioned  as  among  the  "finds 
in  the  mounds  at  Grand  Rapids,  was  some  substance 
having  the  appearance  of  cloth,  but  too  much  decayed 
for  preservation.  Several  copper  axes  from  mounds  in 
Iowa  were  found  wrapped  in  a  similar  covering,  which 
Dr.  Farquharson  pronounces  to  be  cloth.  Possibly  a 
microscopic  examination  may  prove  that  the  Grand 
Rapids  tool  was  similarly  encased,  showing  both  advance 
in  the  art  of  weaving  and  some  especial  reverence  or 
consideration  for  the  metal  implement. 

Among  the  relics  found  in  the  Grand  Rapids  mounds 
— and  by  no  means  uncommon  in  other  tumuli — are 
marine  shells.  Some  of  these  must  have  come  from  the 
Atlantic  or  the  Gulf,  while  one  is  pronounced  by  Prof. 
Strong  to  be  from  the  Pacific.  They  are  interesting  as 
showing  the  extended  intercourse,  and  probably  system 
of  barter  and  exchange,  practised  by  the  unknown  peo- 
ples. The  Pacific  coast  shells  had  evidently  served  the 
purpose  of  vessels,  the  whorls  being  cut  out  and  holes 
made  for  hanging.  Shells  similarly  prepared  were  in  use 
by  the  Southern  Indians  in  the  time  of  De  Soto,  for 
drinking-cups,  as  horns  were  used  by  our  Saxon  ances- 

In  pottery  our  mounds  are  quite  rich.  Some  of  the 
pots  are  at  least  fully  equal  to  those  of  the  bronze  period 
in  Europe.  The  four  pots  mentioned  as  disinterred  at 
Grand  Rapids  were  of  very  regular  form  ;  one  had  a  rim 
around  the  neck,  from  which  the  vessel,  after  a  slight 
curve   inwards,  swelled  into  a  bowl   of   uniform   bulge. 


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The  other  three  differed  in  this,  that  the  bowl — round 
bottomed  in  all — was  divided  into  four  equal  bulges. 
These  were  made  more  sharply  protuberant  by  a  smooth 
band,  an  inch  wide,  surrounding. each,  very  accurately 
modelled  and  deeply  impressed.  On  each  side  were  orna- 
ments of  similar  design.  A  smooth  band  encircled  the 
neck,  and  the  rim  was  adorned  with  cross-lines  or  hatch- 
ing. The  surface  otherwise  was  covered  with  small 
indentations,  the  whole  effect  being  quite  tasteful. 

Among  the  finds  in  Macomb  County  was  a  dish  of  an 
unusual  size  and  form,  and  entire.  It  resembled  the 
smaller  half  end  of  an  egg-shell,  and  had  a  capacity  of 
twelve  to  fifteen  gallons.  It  was  ornamented  with  figures 
of  various  kinds.  Unfortunately  this  unique  vase,  on  ex- 
posure, crumbled  to  pieces. 

The  pots  found  by  Blois  in  the  mound  opened  by  him 
at  Springwells  in  1839  ^^ere  generally  too  much  broken  to 
determine  their  shapes.  They  appeared  to  be  in  the 
form  of  a  half  egg,  abruptly  contracted  toward  the 
mouth,  with  a  flaring  brim,  and  of  the  capacity  of  one 
or  two  gallons.  They  were  smooth  on  the  inside  but 
marked  on  the  exterior  with  various  fantastic  figures. 

By  the  side  of  each  of  the  numerous  skeletons  found 
in  what  is  known  as  the  Carsten  Mound,  Springwells, 
lay  a  pot  or  urn,  of  which  three  only  were  obtained  en- 
tire. Two  of  these  were  uncommonly  fine  specimens, 
in  good  preservation,  and  about  a  foot  in  height.  The 
neck  was  about  five  inches  wide,  with  a  collar,  below  the 
rim,  of  two  inches  breadth.  Below  this  the  body 
swelled  into  a  graceful  curve,  rounded  at  the  base  into  a 
gourd  form.  The  composition  was  clay,  largely  mixed 
with  pounded  stone,  which  contained  much  mica,  and 
on  the  inside  was  black  throughout.     On   the  exterior 


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was  a  thin  coating  of.  reddish  clay,  quite  distinct  from 
the  remainder.  The  fineness  of  the  texture,  combined 
with  great  lightness,  was  admirable.  These  vases  were 
purchased  by  Mr.  Gillman,  and  presented  to  the  Archae- 
ological Museum  at  Cambridge,  Mass. 

The  above  describes  but  a  few  specimens  of  the  many 
pots,  found  usually  in  fragments,  in  the  mounds  at 
Springwells  and  elsewhere.  The  composition  and  gen- 
eral character  are  much  the  same. 

The  art  of  the  potter  is  so  ancient  and  universal,  and 
the  character  and  forms  of  the  utensils  made  of  baked 
clay  are  so  important,  in  a  determination  of  the  advance 
in  culture  of  the  people  by  whom  they  were  fabricated, 
that  more  interest  attaches  to  the  remains  of  a  perished 
race  which  show  the  state  of  the  ceramic  art  among 
them,  than  to  any  other  of  the  ordinary  relics.  The 
specimens  from  the  Michigan  mounds  show  a  taste  to 
appreciate,  and  an  eye  and  hand  capable  of  giving  finish 
to  articles  of  admirable  form,  symmetry  and  lightness, 
scarcely  less  perfect  than  if  constructed  on  a  potter's 

Straight  or  zigzag  lines  occur  on  the  coarsest  speci- 
mens, and  may  betoken  the  first  advance  from  the  rud- 
est savage  ideas.  But  curved  forms  and  figures  are 
more  pleasing  to  the  cultivated  eye,  and  imply  a  degree 
of  aesthetic  advancement.  By  some  process  differing 
from  and  less  effective  than  the  modern,  an  imperfect 
glazing  was  obtained,  and  the'  inner  surfaces  are  often 
quite  smooth  and  fine. 

It  is  possible,  though  it  seems  hardly  probable,  that 
these  pots  were  an  importation  from  the  South,  the  Indi- 
ans of  the  Southern  States,  ancient  and  modern,  being 
noted  for  the   excellence  and  variety  of  their  pottery. 


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That  country  furnished  all  the  material  desired, — colored 
clays,  sea-shells,  and  micaceous  rocks.  Old  kilns  have 
been  found  in  Georgia,  and  Adair  suggests  that  the 
black  color  was  owing  to  the  smoke  of  the  pitch  pine 
used  in  the  fires.  The  fact  that  in  the  better  kinds  of 
pottery  found  in  the  Northern  mounds  exactly  the  same 
materials  combine,  and  the  general  resemblance  of  the 
ornamentation,  may  therefore  warrant  the  conclusion 
that  they  were  importations.  This  supposition,  while  it 
deprives  the  Northern  Mound-Builders  of  the  credit  due 
to  such  skilful  artisans,  shows,  at  least,  that  the  Northern 
peoples  had  the  good  taste  to  appreciate  these  beautiful 
and  useful  articles,  and  it  conveys  an  enlarged  idea  of  the 
extent  of  the  traffic  which  existed  in  these  ancient  times, 
between  the  widely  separated  portions  of  the  continent. 
The  sea-shells  tell  the  same  story,  and  it  is  known  that, 
even  in  modern  times,  the  manufacture  of  stone  imple- 
ments, arrow-points,  etc.,  was  confined  to  a  few  skilled 
persons,  and  that  such  articles  were  transported  all  over 
the  country,  for  purpose  of  sale  and  barter. 



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Part  II.— Indian  Antiquities  at  Springwells. 

DURING  the  early  French  occupation  of  Detroit 
several  Indian  nations  had  settlements  on  the 
river  banks,  in  the  immediate  vicinity.  Conspicuous 
were  the  Hurons,  Pottawatomies  and  Ottawas.  They 
had  villages  strongly  defended  by  stockades.  They 
raised  com  and  many  vegetables,  in  large  quantities. 

These  incidents  of  history  are  recalled,  because  the 
fact  of  the  considerable  degree  of  settled  and  civilized 
habits  attained  by  the  Indian  tribes  of  that  day  serves 
to  throw  some  light  upon  those  pre-historic  antiquities 
whose  origin  and  purposes  are  involved  in  so  much  ob- 

When  I  came  to  Detroit,  in  1835,  many  evidences  were 
still  existent  of  the  old  aboriginal  occupation.  It  was 
hardly  possible  to  dig  a  cellar  or  level  a  hillock  without 
throwing  out  some  memorial  of  the  red  races.  Mingled 
with  their  half-decayed  bones  were  pipes  and  other  uten- 
sils of  stone,  broken  pottery,  ornaments  of  silver  and 
copper,  wampum-beads  of  curious  workmanship,  the  ar- 
row and  tomahawk  of  the  savage,  and  the  figured  cross 
of  the  missionary. 

In  striking  relationship  with  the  emblems  of  savage 
warfare  it  was  not  uncommon  to  find,  **  in  one  red  burial 
blent,"  gun-barrels,  sword-blades  and  cannon  balls,  me- 
mentos  of  the   pale-faced  warriors   who   strove  on   the 



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same  battlefields.  But  arrow-  and  spear-head,  and  other 
memorials  of  the  savage — rude  as  were  the  artificers — 
are  perfect  as  in  the  day  when  they  left  the  hands  that 
made  them,  while  the  implements  of  the  civilized  race 
are  nearly  perished  with  rust.  Thus  does  the  remote 
past  outlive  the  present.  The  old  alone  is  ever  new, 
fresh  and  imperishable ! 

To  unearth  a  human  skeleton  was  a  common  occur- 
rence. They  were  thrown  out  by  spade  and  plough,  and 
sometimes  were  seen  protruding  from  the  soil  where  the 
action  of  the  waves  had  broken  into  the  land. 

Of  several  skulls  thus  obtained  and  in  my  possession, 
one  is  deserving  of  particular  mention,  from  the  fact 
that  it  is  stained  through  with  permanent  colors  of  red 
and  green.  It  was  the  custom  among  some  tribes  to 
paint  the  face  of  the  dead  with  his  war-colors,  but  it  is 
not  possible  that  these  pigments,  laid  upon  the  skin, 
should  have  penetrated  the  bone.  A  close  examination 
reveals  the  presence  of  a  belt  of  color,  extending  around 
the  head,  on  a  line  with  the  forehead,  and  my  conjecture 
is,  that  the  stain  is  a  deposit  from  the  oxidation  of  a  cop- 
per band,  placed  about  the  temples.  The  colors  are 
strong  and  penetrate  the  entire  bone. 

But  more  interesting  memorials  of  a  traditionary  race 
were  then  extant.  Allusion  has  already  been  made  to 
tumuli  at  Springwells.  A  group  of  these  existed  on  the 
river  front  of  the  Reeder  farm.  Just  below  the  cop- 
per works  the  bank  was  very  bold,  and  elevated  about 
thirty  feet  above  the  water.  On  this  bank  were  two 
mounds  of  conical  form,  of  which  one  still  existed  at  the 
time  of  my  first  visit,  though  injured  by  pilferers  of 
Indian  relics.  It  was  then  about  ten  feet  in  height,  with 
a  base  diameter  of  forty  feet.     Large  excavations  were 


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in  progress  for  gravel,  and  for  clay  used  in  the  nrnriufact- 
ure  of  brick.  These  encroachments  had  destroyed  one 
of  the  tumuli,  and  the  whole  have  since  disappeared. 

On  and  around  this  spot,  for  the  extent  of  an  acre,  were 
thickly  strewn  bones  and  broken  pottery,  mingled  with 
shell  beads,  stone  knives  and  arrow-points.  Several  rods 
below  was  a  smaller  tumulus  in  a  field,  then  covered  with 
forest.  It  did  not  exceed  six  feet  in  height,  and  is  still 
in  good  preservation,  within  the  grounds  of  the  United 
States  reservation. 

In  a  "Gazetteer  of  the  State  of  Michigan,"  published 
by  John  T.  Blois,  in  1839,  ^^  given  an  account  of  the 
opening  of  one  of  these  mounds  two  years  before,  which 
has  much  interest. 

The  excavation  was  commenced  on  the  top,  and  con- 
tinued a  depth  of  four  feet  below  the  base.  The  soil, 
like  that  of  the  surrounding  country,  was  sand,  but  it 
exhibited  a  mixture  of  decomposed  animal  matter,  and 
occasional  fragments  of  bone,  some  of  which  had 
evidently  undergone  calcination.  The  first  few  feet 
revealed  many  human  skeletons,  laid  in  a  promiscuous 
manner,  with  deposits  of  the  usual  utensils  and  imple- 
ments, and  with  each  were  several  pounds  of  a  friable 
earth,  resembling  Spanish  brown,  but  which  colored  red 
any  object  to  which  it  was  applied.  About  one  foot 
from  the  base  a  stratum  of  charcoal,  three  inches  thick, 
was  penetrated.  Immediately  below  this  were  found  six 
human  skeletons,  lying  in  different  parts  of  the  mound. 
Each  appeared  to  have  been  interred  in  a  kneeling  or 
sitting  posture.  The  head  was  invariably  turned  toward 
the  north  ;  the  body  a  little  inclined  backwards,  and  the 
hands  supporting  an  earthen  vessel,  in  the  attitude  of  a 


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person  preparing  to   drink.     Only  the  long  bones  and 
parts  of  the  ribs  and  crania  remained  undecayed. 

"The  general  contour  of  the  cranium  was  different 
from  what  is  commonly  noticed  in  the  present  Indian 
races.  The  mouth  large  and  broad,  the  face  wide  and 
short ;  the  forehead  exceedingly  low  and  receding ;  the 
skull  unusually  thick;  the  volume  of  the  brain  quite 
small.  It  was  judged  that  the  stature  of  none  exceeded 
five  feet  six  inches.^* 

Arrow-heads,  pieces  of  hornstone  and  quartz,  wrought 
and  unwrought,  of  the  rudest  kind,  but  some  forming 
very  sharp  cutting  implements,  were  beside  them.  **  No 
metal  was  discovered,  but  the  oxide  or  rust  of  iron  was 
traced  in  the  shape  of  a  vessel,  holding  some  two  or 
three  gallons,  which  proved  it  to  have  been  of  iron.  By 
the  side  of  one  was  found  the  remains  of  an  uncommonly 
large,  white  marine  shell.*' 

Great  numbers  of  beads,  in  cylindrical  form,  and  made 
of  similar  shell,  were  found.  Some  had  been  strung, 
others  lay  upon  different  parts  of  the  body,  and  six  were 
found  enclosed  in  the  mouth.  The  vessels  were  of  the 
capacity  of  one  or  two  gallons. 

The  most  remarkable  feature  of  this  find  is  the  pres- 
ence of  an  oxide  of  iron,  supposed  to  represent  a  vessel 
of  that  metal.  It  suggests  a  very  difficult  subject  of  in- 
quiry, for  if  these  bodies  really  belonged  to  the  pre-historic 
race,  as  every  other  circumstance  would  imply,  then  are 
we  in  conflict  with  the  apparently  well  founded  opinion 
that  the  art  of  smelting  metals,  either  iron  or  copper,  was 
unknown  to  that  early  race.  Iron  is  very  perishable,  and 
would  probably  be  wholly  consumed  by  rust,  long  before 
human  bones  deposited  at  that  remote  era  would  have 
crumbled  away. 


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In  a  letter  from  Mr.  Blois  written  me  in  1877,  he  con- 
firms his  statement  made  in  1839,  regarding  the  supposed 
iron  vessel,  by  the  recollection  of  Mr.  H.  Ransom,  who 
was  present.  He  says  he  had  **  broken  one  side  of  the 
top  before  he  noticed  anything  peculiar.  He  then 
scraped  the  sand  from  the  hollow  interior,  but  there  was 
not  sufficient  strength  in  it  to  hold  together."  The  ap- 
pearance, he  adds,  was  certainly  that  of  indurated  oxide 
of  iron,  and  yet  the  circumstance  seems  to  him  incredible. 

The  story  of  the  use  of  these  mounds  by  the  native 
tribes  to  a  quite  recent  date,  for  intrusive  burial,  is  very 

General  Cass  said  that  bodies  were  brought  here  from 
great  distances,  and  were  even  preserved  frozen  during 
the  winter,  in  order  that  they  might  be  interred  in  these 
favorite  mausolea. 

The  Hon.  B.  F.  H.  Witherell,  in  a  paper  read  in  1858 
before  the  Historical  Society  of  Michigan,  stated,  that  in 
his  childhood  he  had  seen  the  children  of  the  wilderness 
deposit  the  remains  of  their  departed  friends  in  the  bosom 
of  one  of  these  mounds.  **They  scooped  out  a  shallow 
grave  in  the  centre  of  the  top,  and,  after  covering  the 
body  with  sand  brought  from  the  neighboring  bank,  the 
friends  of  the  dead  man  went  into  the  river  and  waded 
about  in  a  zigzag  course  for  some  time,  until  the  spirit 
had  departed  on  its  long  journey.  The  object  of  this 
custom  was,  that  the  spirit  might  not  be  able  to  follow 
the  tracks  in  the  sand."  According  to  a  common  super- 
stition, the  soul  of  the  deceased  lingered  for  several  days, 
unwilling  to  quit  his  earthly  belongings,  and  probably 
this  artifice  was  required  to  compel  him  to  set  forth  on 
his  spirit  travel.  As  a  ghost  cannot  cross  water,  the 
above  plan  was  resorted  to,  in  order  that  he  might  lose 


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sight  of  friends  who  would  have  otherwise  attracted  him 
to  stay  too  long. 

"  This  sand  hill  was  a  favorite  camping-ground  with  all 
the  Western  tribes,  in  their  annual  migration  from  their 
far  off  homes  on  the  banks  of  the  Mississippi,  the  shores 
of  Lake  Superior,  and  the  rivers  and  lakes  of  the  western 
forests,  to  receive  froin  the  Indian  agent  at  Maiden  the 
annuities  so  liberally  furnished  them  by  the  British  Gov- 
ernment. At  different  times  the  Sacs,  Sioux,  Foxes, 
Winnebagoes,  Menominees,  lowas,  Wyandots,  Pottawat- 
omies,  Chippewas,  Tawas  and  other  tribes  congregated 
at  this  favorite  spot,  and  made  night  hideous  with  their 
discordant  yells.  Here  they  held  their  war  and  medicine 
dances.  Their  music  was  the  monotonous  sound  of  the 
rude  drum,  beaten  with  unvarying  stroke,  frequently  all 
night  long.  It  was  done  to  drive  the  evil  spirit  off,  and 
sometimes  indicated  that  a  warrior  was  laid  in  his  grave/' 

This  practice  on  the  part  of  the  British  Government 
was  continued  down  to  1836,  and  I  have  seen  the  river 
alive  with  canoes  of  these  various  tribes,  as  late  as  the 
second  year  of  my  residence  in  Springwells. 

The  general  level  of  the  land  in  the  vicinity  of  Detroit  is 
varied,  over  a  considerable  portion  of  the  town  of  Spring- 
wells,  by  ridges  of  sand  and  gravel.  They  mark  the 
shores  or  water-lines  of  the  ancient  lake  or  ocean,  at 
different  epochs.  These  elevated  places  were  often 
chosen  by  the  natives  for  sepulchral  purposes.  Until 
recently  it  was  not  known  that  any  portion  of  these  was 

In  the  year  1870,  in  digging  away  a  section  from  one 
of  these  ridges,  on  land  of  Mr.  J.  H.  Carstens,  opposite 
Fort  Wayne,  one  of  the  ancient  tombs  was  disturbed, 
and  the  skeletons  of  fourteen  bodies  disinterred.     They 


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were  in  the  usual  contracted  posture,  and  beside  the 
head  of  each  was  an  earthen  crock.  Two  of  these, 
which  were  quite  perfect,  were  the  vases  described  in  a 
former  page,  and  now  in  the  Archaeological  Museum  at 

Among  a  large  number  of  arrow-points  and  other  arti- 
cles common  to  the  mounds  were  several  lance-heads  of 
unusual  size  and  beauty.  They  were  of  milk-white 
quartz,  about  7  inches  long  by  3  wide,  and  very  finely 
and  evenly  serrated. 

Among  the  relics  was  a  long  needle  of  copper,  afid  a 
necklace  of  copper  beads,  but  no  vestige  of  iron. 

There  was  the  usual  report  of  big  bones.  In  this  case 
the  large  individual  measured  seven  and  a  half  feet  in 
height ! 

The  original  surface  of  the  ground  was  about  fifteen 
feet  above  the  general  level,  and  consisted  of  drift  gravel, 
overlaid  by  yellow  sand.  The  bodies  were  found  at  a 
depth  of  six  or  seven  feet  from  this  original  surface,  and 
were,  of  course,  interred  in  these  deep  graves  before  the 
tumulus,  which  was  only  three  or  four  feet  high,  was 
heaped  above. 

About  half  a  mile  below  the  group  of  SpringwellS  tu- 
muli already  mentioned,  is  a  small  circular  earthwork,  of 
the  kind  alluded  to  at  the  beginning  of  these  observa- 
tions upon  the  Indian  antiquities  of  Michigan. 

It  consists  of  a  low  embankment,  of  an  oval  form,  en- 
closing about  one  and  a  half  acres.  The  longest  axis  is 
320  feet,  the  shortest  250  feet,  to  centre  of  embankment. 
The  latter  is  about  twelve  feet  wide  at  base,  and  about 
two  feet  in  height.  The  ditch  from  which  the  earth  was 
taken  is  about  eight  feet  wide,  and  mostly  on  the  outer 
side,  but  is  in  some  places  on  the  inner  side,  as  though 


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this  had  been  a  matter  of  indifference.  At  the  south 
end,  toward  the  river,  and  about  100  feet  distant,  is  an 
opening  or  gateway,  50  feet  wide. 

The  accompanying  sketch  will  give  a  clearer  idea  of 
the  situation.  It  is  upon  a  small  area  of  land,  about  500 
feet  long,  and  as  many  wide,  which  rises  gently  from  the 
river  to  the  height  of  about  six  feet.  No  attempt  seems 
to  have  been  made  to  level  the  surface  within  the  en- 

This  tract  of  firm  land  is  surrounded  by  a  morass,  or 
open  wet  prairie,  which  upon  the  north  and  west  sides 
is  several  hundred  feet  wide.  Upon  the  east  this  marsh 
narrows  to  a  neck  about  100  feet  wide,  which  separates 
the  hard-land  tract  from  a  ridge  of  some  fifteen  feet 
elevation.  There  are  traces  of  what  appear  to  have  once 
been  two  parallel  embankments,  a  few  feet  apart,  which 
crossed  the  neck  of  marsh,  in  a  direct  line  towards  the 
circular  **  fort,**  if  such  it  may  be  called. 

Of  the  purpose  for  which  this  work  was  constructed,  we 
are  left  to  conjecture.  It  would  hardly  seem  to  have 
answered  that  of  a  fortification,  as  it  is  overlooked  by 
the  higher  land  on  the  east,  within  the  distance  of  an 
arrow  cast.  There  are  no  traces  of  a  stockade,  such  as 
have  been  found  with  similar  structures  in  Western  New 
York,  and  attributed  to  the  Iroquois.  The  width  of  the 
gateway,  and  the  absence  of  any  protective  mound 
within,  and  the  irregular  character  of  the  ditch  hardly 
accord  with  the  supposition  that  it  was  a  military  work. 
It  might  have  served  as  a  place  of  security  for  the 
women  and  children,  while  the  warriors  were  upon  a  war- 
path, or  been  thrown  up  in  some  sudden  emergency. 

There  is  nothing  to  indicate  that  the  enclosure  sur- 
rounded a  village,  and  neither  the  ancient  nor  modern 


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races  are  supposed  to  have  had  herds  of  domesticated 
animals,  requiring  the  protection  of  corrals.  Yet  the 
regularity  of  the  work  marks  it  as  one  of  studied  design. 

When  this  interesting  relic  first  came  to  my  knowledge, 
half  a  century  ago,  it  was  in  the  midst  of  a  dense  forest 
and  thicket,  shrouded  from  any  observation  but  that  of 
an  antiquary,  and  cut  off  from  roads  and  settlements  by 
the  morass.  Many  generations  had  risen  and  passed 
away  since  the  dusky  forms  of  its  artificers  were  consigned 
to  the  neighboring  tumuli,  and  antique  oaks  and  ram- 
bling grape-vines — its  sole  occupants — silently  told  the 
story  of  the  years  that  had  gone  by, 

I  shall  close  these  remarks  with  some  account  of  the 
great  mound  near  the  junction  of  the  river  Rouge  with 
the  Detroit,  at  Del  Rey,  three  miles  below  the  city. 

Ever  since  the  settlement  of  the  country  this  mound 
has  been  a  well-known  and  conspicuous  feature.  To  the 
old  French  habitants  it  was  also  known  that  it  had  been 
used  by  the  Indians  as  a  burial-place.  Yet  its  true  char- 
acter seems  never  to  have  been  fully  appreciated,  and  the 
interest  which  attaches  to  it  may  warrant  me  in  occupy- 
ing some  further  pages  in  its  description. 

For  nearly  half  a  century,  portion  after  portion  has 
been  dug  away  and  removed,  by  wagon  load  and  boat 
load,  and  little  notice  taken  of  its  contents,  until  now  it 
is  but  a  miniature  of  its  former  self.  Mr.  Bourdeno,  who 
has  lived  in  the  vicinity  for  more  than  sixty  years,  says 
the  mound  originally  extended  from  its  present  limits 
westerly  fully  500  feet,  to  where  a  bend  in  the  Rouge 
brings  that  river  close  to  the  highway.  The  mound  or 
hill  was  then  700  or  800  feet  long,  400  feet  wide,  and  not 
less  than  forty  feet  high.     The  south  side  bordered  close 


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on  the  river  for  its  whole  length.  It  was  symmetrical  in 
form,  and  the  slopes  were  about  as  steep  as  the  sand,  of 
which  most  of  it  was  composed,  could  be  retained.  Not 
only  has  it  been  reduced  more  than  half  the  entire 
length,  but  more  than  half  also  of  its  width  on  the  river 
side.  Little  of  the  original  shape  now  remains,  and  the 
present  extreme  height  nowhere  exceeds  thirty  feet 
above  the  stream. 

But  little  examination  is  needed  to  show  that  some 
part  at  least  of  the  elevation  is  natural,  for  a  stratum  of 
gravel  appears  below  ten  or  more  feet  of  sand,  which 
evidently  belongs  to  the  drift  that  has  left  many  similar 
deposits  over  this  region.  A  portion  of  the  overlying 
sand  may  be  ascribed  to  the  same  source,  but  I  think 
the  fact  will  be  made  evident  that  a  considerable  part  of 
the  original,  and  even  of  the  present  elevation,  is  artifi- 

The  situation  is  such  as  would  be  chosen  by  the 
Mound-Builders,  over  all  others,  for  a  resting-place  and 
monument  to  their  dead.  It  is  most  picturesque.  At 
the  base,  circling  nearly  two  sides  of  the  mound,  lay  the 
deep  waters  of  the  river  Rouge.  Beyond  stretched  a 
field  of  natural  meadow,  to  the  river  Detroit,  half  a  mile 
distant,  and  visible  for  many  miles  of  its  course.  To 
the  south  and  west  were  seen  Grosse  Isle  and  the  chan- 
nel leading  past  Maiden  to  Lake  Erie.  Above  stretched 
the  straits,  as  far  as  the  site  of  the  city,  while  north- 
ward the  view  commands  many  miles  of  rolling  country. 
The  tumulus  must  have  been  visible  from  a  great  dis- 
tance, in  every  direction. 

Much  as  has  been  lost  by  the  wanton  destruction  of 
this  instructive  monument,  enough  is  disclosed  to  show 
that  this  huge  mound  has  been  the  memorial  of  many 


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■  Pi 




■  H 



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interesting  and  marvellous  events.  From  the  immense 
number  of  skeletons  found  within  it,  and  the  mode  of 
their  occurrence,  there  can  be  little  doubt  that  it  was 
one  of  these  national  sepulchres  of  the  Hurons,  and 
other  Algonquin  tribes,  where  were  deposited  the 
remains  of  their  dead,  that  had  been  carefully  kept  for 
the  purpose,  until  the  flesh  had  disappeared,  and  the 
proper  season  had  arrived  for  the  great  '*  Festival  of  the 

This  was  attended,  amid  the  general  gathering  of  the 
tribes,  with  many  ceremonies,  to  which  I  shall  only 
briefly  allude.  The  festival  has  been  so.  well  described 
in  the  15th  Canto  of  Teuch-sa-Grondie^  by  our  lamented 
townsman,  Levi  Bishop,  that  I  refer  the  curious  to  that 
poem  for  its  full  illustration. 

Until  this  ceremony  had  taken  place  the  spirits  of  the 
dead  were  supposed  to  wander  restlessly  about,  as  did 
the  unburied  Romans  on  the  borders  of  the  Styx. 

"  Departed  spirits  linger  still, — 
Their  vacant  place  in  cabin  fill; 
Awaiting  for  the  festal  day. 
To  speed  them  on  their  destined  way,-^ 
To  final  home, — to  land  afar — 
To  land  beyond  the  evening  star." 

When  the  appointed  time  has  arrived 

" — the  recent  dead 
Are  lifted  from  their  temporary  bed,  • 

The  relics — shapeless  forms,  in  swift  de<j^y, 
The  mouldy  bones,  without  the  lifeless  clay, 
Of  both  the  sexes,  and  of  young  and  old ; 
The  child,  the  lover,  sachem,  chieftain  bold, — 
A  frightful  throng,  a  melancholy  train, 
Come  forth  their  final  resting-place  to  gain." 


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The  dismal  process  of  cleansing  the  bones — the  expos- 
ure of  the  remains  to  the  view  of  mourning  friends — the 
decoration  in  the  richest  furs — the  display  of  gifts  des- 
tined for  sacrifice, — the  procession — the  harangue — the 
dance — the  games — the  feast — the  solemn  song,  broken 
at  intervals  by  the  long-measured,  dreary  funeral  wail, 
simulating  voices  of  disembodied  souls,  winging  their 
way  to  the  land  of  spirits, — the  promiscuous  casting  of 
the  remains  into  one  general  pit,  amid  *'a  weeping, 
shrieking,  howling  concourse  **  of  guests  and  mourners, 
gathered  from  the  whole  nation,  all  illuminated  by  the 
midnight  glare  of  blazing  torches  and  camp-fires,  consti- 
tuted a  scene  unique  as  it  was  solemn  and  awful ;  one  of 
those  mysteries  of  the  past  that  is  never  to  return. 

"  Two  fathoms  deep  the  burial  pit, 
And  twice  two  ample  fathoms  wide ; 
A  circle  that  might  well  admit 
A  thousand  bodies,  side  by  side.'  * 

The  Jesuit  Relations  of  1636  tell  us  of  a  place  of  this 
kind  set  apart  among  the  Hurons  in  Canada,  before  their 
fatal  dispersion  by  the  Iroquois,  where  they  were  accus- 
tomed to  inter  their  dead  in  one  common  sepulchre, 
heaping  above  them  the  funeral  mound.  This  ceremony 
took  place  once  in  ten  or  twelve  years.* 

That  the  river  Rouge  mound  was  of  this  character 
there  is  much  cumulative  evidence  to  prove.  Mr.  Bour- 
deno  has  seen  hundreds  of  skeletons  removed  in  the  dig- 
ging down  of  the  hill.  He  says  that  in  some  parts  there 
seems  to  have  been  a  "  cellar,**  which  was  filled  with 
bones,  mingled  indiscriminately. 

*  It  is  matter  of  history  that  a  portion  of  this  nation,  which  escaped  the 
massacre  on  Lake  Huron,  fled  to  and  settled  below  Detroit,  where  they 
were  known  as  Wyandots. 


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Squire  Ludlow,  an  old  resident,  also  gives  similar  ac- 
counts of  the  number  of  skeletons  disinterred.  His 
statement  goes  further,  as  to  their  immense  quantities, 
much  of  which  he  collected  and  buried  elsewhere.  Thou- 
sands of  fragments  of  human  bones  still  lie  bleaching  on 
the  sand,  mingled  with  sherds  of  pottery  and  other  relics. 

Powerful  as  is  the  interest  which  attaches  to  this  hill 
of  the  dead  from  this  proof  of  its  character,  it  presents 
other  points  of  interest. 

It  affords  certain  evidence  that  cremation  was  practised 
by  the  Mound-Builders  of  this  region.  It  was  also,  in  all 
probability,  a  sacred  or  "  altar  "  mound.  In  the  account 
given  me  by  Bourdeno  he  states,  that  in  other  parts  of 
the  mound  than  those  containing  the  "  cellars,**  much 
charcoal  and  ashes  were  found,  mingled  with  burned 
bones.  With  these  were  many  pieces  of  large  pots,  but 
all  were  broken.  The  latter  fact  is  consonant  with  the 
theory  of  cremation,  for  on  these  occasions  the  relics, 
instead  of  being  buried  whole  with  the  dead,  as  in  ordi- 
nary cases,  were  thrown  upon  the  burning  pile,  and  of 
course  suffered  partial  destruction. 

Another  phase  in  the  history'of  this  mound  is  related 
by  Bourdeno,  viz.,  that  in  Pontiac*s  time,  and  before  the 
fatal  ambuscade  at  Bloody  Run,  there  occurred  at  this 
place  a  massacre  of  British  soldiers  by  the  Indians,  and 
that  the  dead  were  buried  in  this  mound.  I  am  not 
aware  that  history  alludes  to  this  event,  but  the  fact  that 
many  bodies  of  white  soldiers  have  been  interred  in  the 
hill  is  evident,  from  the  character  of  the  skulls  found  in  a 
certain  part  of  it,  and  from  the  attendant  relics,  such  as 
pieces  of  scabbards,  buttons  and  other  portions  of  military 
equipment,  which  have  escaped  decay. 

During  old  territorial  times  the  mound  was  made  to 


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subserve  the  living.  A  house  was  erected  on  the  sum- 
mit, near  the  east  end,  which  was  at  first  a  trading-post 
for  the  Indians.  It  has  been  gone  many  years, — all  ex- 
cept a  large  quantity  of  bricks  and  mortar,  and  other 
rubbish.  The  relic-hunter  finds  over  the  whole  surface  a 
curious  intermingling  of  the  old  and  the  new ; — glass, 
pieces  of  crockery,  iron  and  other  articles  of  modern 
housekeeping  are  in  close  communion  with  flint  imple- 
ments, antique  pot-sherds,  and  Indian  trinkets,  and  with 
bits  of  brass  and  iron  that  once  belonged  to  the  accoutre- 
ments of  the  British  soldier. 

Desirous  of  more  fully  determining  the  true  character 
of  the  mound,  a  few  years  ago  I  proceeded,  in  company 
with  Messrs.  Henry  Gillman  and  H.  G.  Hubbard,  to  a 
practical  investigation. 

Having  determined,  as  nearly  as  possible,  the  central 
axis  of  the  original  mound,  we  proceeded  to  open  a 
trench  near  to  it,  and  through  the  highest  part  now  re- 
maining, a  portion  of  which  seemed  to  have  been  undis- 
turbed and  was  still  covered  with  sod. 

This  trench  was  commenced  on  the  river  side,  near  the 
top,  six  feet  wide  and  five  deep,  and  was  continued 
northerly  for  the  distance  of  ten  feet  before  anything  ap- 
peared to  reward  the  labor,  except  an  English  half-penny 
of  George  III.,*and  a  United  States  cent  of  1829.  These 
were  found  about  four  feet  below  the  surface  of  the 
digging.  We  then  struck  a  skull.  This  was  dug  care- 
fully around,  and  the  skeleton  exposed.  It  lay  with  the 
head  to  the  east,  and  was  so  doubled  together  and 
crushed,  that  the  whole  occupied  a  space  not  more  than 
two  feet  long  by  four  inches  thick. 

It  had  evidently  originally  been  placed  in  a  sitting 
posture.    The  skull  was  so  much  flattened  and  decayed 


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as  to  render  it  impossible  to  determine  the  shape  or  size. 
The  ribs  and  most  of  the  vertebrae  and  smaller  bones  had 
perished,  but  the  larger  bones  of  the  arms  and  legs  were 
sufficiently  perfect  to  be  removed.  The  flattening  of  the 
tibia,  first  pointed  out  by  Mr.  Gillman  as  characteristic 
of  the  most  ancient  human  remains  In  this  region,  was 
very  observable. 

On  the  south  side  of  the  head  was  a  small  pot,  com- 
posed of  baked  clay,  which  was  also  so  flattened  and  de- 
cayed that  it  could  be  removed  only  in  fragments.  This 
skeleton  was  only  three  feet  below  the  surface,  but  how 
many  feet  had  been  originally  heaped  over  it  it  was  im- 
possible to  say. 

To  the  west,  and  about  two  feet  from  the  above  and 
one  foot  deeper,  was  a  mass  apparently  composed  of 
burned  human  remains.  It  formed  a  dark,  reddish  soil, 
several  inches  thick,  and  quite  hard  and  compact*  It  oc- 
cupied a  space  two  feet  by  one  and  a  half,  and  four 
inches  thick.  Close  to  this  were  a  few  unbumed  por- 
tions of  a  skeleton,  and  a  perfectly  formed  greenstone 

At  about  the  same  distance  from  the  skeleton  first 
mentioned,  and  a  foot  lower  down,  was  another  mass  of 
cinders.  Still  deeper,  and  at  a  foot  remove  to  the  west, 
was  another  mass  of  considerably  larger  extent,  and  a 
foot  thick. 

Among  these  masses  of  compacted  cinder  were  several 
large  nodules  of  irregular  form,  and  of  a  yellowish-red 
color,  which  seemed  held  together  by  a  cement  of  iron 
rust.  Nothing,  however,  beyond  this  indicated  that  these 
might  once  have  composed  vessels  of  iron.  The  lowest 
of  the  compacted  masses  was  five  feet  beneath  the 
present  surface.     That  they  consisted  in  part  of  burned 


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human  bones  there  could  be  no  doubt,  and  they  establish 
the  fact  of  cremation  beyond  question. 

In  excavating  another  trench  at  a  lower  part  of  the 
mound,  we  came,  at  a  depth  of  two  feet,  upon  what^ ap- 
peared, from  its. color  and  character,  to  have  at  one  period 
constituted  the  original  surface.  A  few  itiches  below 
this  was  disclosed  a  stratum  of  black  earth,  composed  of 
cinders  and  burned  bones,  the  extent  of  which  was  traced 
at  several  points,  and  found  to  constitute  a  bed  not  less 
than  twenty  feet  square.  On  the  disturbed  surface  was 
found  a  spot  covered  with  broken  fragments  of  clay. 
This,  as  the  matrix  is  entirely  sand,  may  be  presumed  to 
be  an  artificial  deposit.  It  may  have  formed  part  of  an 
"altar,"  or  clay  hearth,  such  as  are  pointed  out  bySquier 
in  his  so-called  "  Altar  Mounds  **  of  Ohio. 

Continuing  the  excavations  beneath  the  sodded  portion 
of  the  mound,  at  three  feet  from  the  surface  we  uncovered 
numerous  skeletons.  They  were  disposed  irregularly,  as 
though  hastily  buried.  The  skulls  and  some  of  the  bones 
were  in  tolerably  perfect  preservation.  Quite  a  number 
were  those  of  babes.  Some  of  the  crania  were  shattered, 
as  if  from  heavy  blows.  Two  of  them  exhibited  a  round 
hole  at  the  apex,  made  by  some  sharp  instrument  after 
death.  The  rimming  is  plainly  visible,  and  the  holes  are 
about  half  an  inch  diameter. 

We  now  sunk  a  shaft  or  well  into  the  sand  at  the  place 
where  the  hard,  cemented  masses  were  discovered.  This 
was  continued  to  the  depth  of  eight  feet,  and  here  were 
found  numerous  nodules  or  lumps  of  a  white  substance, 
which  proved  to  be  disintegrated  bone.  These  continued 
in  considerable  numbers  through  the  succeeding  three 
feet,  when  the  digging  was  discontinued.     How  much 


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lower  still  these  singular  masses  continue  was  left  unde- 

There  was  no  appearance  of  the  sand  having  ever  been 
disturbed,  yet  the  presence  of  these  bones  made  evident 
either  that  interments  had  taken  place  at  this  great  depth 
of  more  than  ten  feet,  or  that  the  earth  had  accumulated 
since  the  deposition.  It  is  entirely  improbable  that  any 
of  the  Indian  races  buried  their  dead  in  graves  of  that 
extreme  depth,  for  no  such  custom  is  known.  And  as 
these  occur  immediately  below  the  undoubted  Indian 
remains  first  mentioned,  it  is  apparent  that  interments 
took  place  during  long  intervals  of  time,  the  earth  heaped 
above  the  first  being  a  foundation  for  a  new  interment, 
bodies  being  sometimes  buried  entire  and  sometimes 
burned,  the  remains  being  covered,  like  the  others,  with 
a  fresh  deposit  of  sand.  Thus  year  by  year,  and  cycle 
by  cycle,  the  mound  grew  in  height  and  proportions. 

Since  the  discovery  of  the  two  perforated  skulls  others 
have  come  to  light,  similarly  treated,  elsewhere  in  the 
State.  The  condition  of  these  crania  indicates  that  they 
are  comparatively  modern.  For  what  purpose  were  these 
perforations?  A  suggestion  has  been  made,  and  it  ac- 
cords with  the  known  a^lxieties  of  the  Indian,  that  the 
holes  were  for  giving  more  speedy  release  to  the  spirit 
from  its  earthly  tenement.  Another  supposition  is  of  a 
very  practical  kind,  that  they  were  intended  as  a  means 
of  suspending  the  skull  in  view  of  the  friends  of  the  de- 
ceased, until  the  time  of  the  great  festival  of  inhumation. 

We  must  regard  this  great  mound — now  being  so  ruth- 
lessly destroyed — as  a  vast  necropolis,  containing  the 
dead  of  many  centuries,  belonging  both  to  the  prehistoric 
past  and  to  our  modern  era. 

In  this  beautiful  spot  the  red  man  of  all  those  departed 


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eras,  perhaps  from  many  now  forgotten  nations,  desired 
to  make  his  final  rest  after  the  toils  and  pleasures  of  life 
were  ended,  and  to  be  gathered  to  his  fathers  in  the  place 
where  reposed  the  bones  of  generations  gone  before.  To 
his  limited  comprehension  this  tumulus  of  sand  was 
stable  as  an  Egyptian  pyramid,  for  it  was  secured  by 
religious  veneration. 

Many  a  time  had  his  canoe  paused  at  this  place,  and 
landing,  he  had  ascended  the  ancient  mound,  while  his 
eye  roamed  over  the  wide  expanse  of  river  and  marsh  and 
land  in  search  of  friendly  forms,  or,  it  may  be,  of  parties 
of  his  foes,  creeping  stealthily  along  its  sandy  shores. 
Here,  as  tradition  tells,  the  great  Pontiac  resorted — that 
stem,  uncompromising  foe  of  the  Anglo-Saxon.  Where 
but  upon  the  graves  of  their  ancestors,  could  he  so 
worthily  arouse  the  hearts  of  the  living  to  resist  their 
oppressors?  And  here,  when  hope  had  perished,  may 
this  savage  hero  have  come  to  muse  upon  the  past  and 
its  faded  glories.  What  shades  would  throng  around  him 
if  each  skeleton  form  of  the  thousands  that  lay  below 
could  answer  to  his  summons  ! 

**  From  graves  forgotten  stretch  their  dusty  hands, 
And  hold  in  mortmain  still  their  old  estates.' ' 

Within  even  the  brief  period  of  the  ascendency  of  the 
Anglo-Saxon  in  this  region,  how  much  of  the  past  has 
been  forgotten !  Who  can  tell  the  story  of  that  fierce 
struggle  which  took  place  on  this  spot,  when  the  two 
races  that  in  life  had  been  so  distinct  and  hostile,  mingled 
together  in  death  in  a  common  mausoleum,  that  covered 
alike  their  bones  and  their  animosities  ? 

And  now,  how  changed  the  scene !  The  same  noble 
river,  in  undeviating  flood,  rolls  its  waters  to  the  lake, 
but  the  canoe  of  the  red  man  has  given  place  to  the 


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winged  barks  of  commerce,  the  barge  and  the  steamer. 
The  protecting  forests  have  been  superseded  by  culti- 
vated farms  and  village  streets,  and  smoking  factories. 
In  the  distance  rise  to  view  the  spires  and  buildings  of  a 
proud  and  prosperous  city.  The  whoop  of  the  savage 
and  his  funeral  howl  are  supplanted  by  the  hum  of  an 
untiring,  practical  industry. 

Still,  as  of  old,  the  warm  sunshine  rests  upon  this  spot ; 
the  sparkling  waters  lave  its  base  ;  the  winds  blow  over  it 
from  the  not  distant  lake,  scattering  the  dust  that  once 
animated  human  forms.  But  the  beings  these  cheered  in 
the  olden  time  have  all  perished  from  the  land  ;  their  his- 
tory is  but  a  fading  dream,  and  the  proud  pile  which  they 
created  to  immortalize  their  memory  has  nearly  disap- 
peared, and  will  soon  have  vanished  altogether,  in  the 
progress  of  an  unheeding  and  remorseless  civilization. 


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A  CLASS  of  works  of  the  Mound-Builders  exists  in 
Michigan,  of  unknown  age  and  origin,  which  have 
received  the  name  of  **  Garden-Beds." 

An  unusual  importance  attaches  to  these  remains  of  a 
lost  race,  from  the  fact  that  they  have  been  almost  en- 
tirely overlooked  by  archaeologists,  and  that  of  those 
which  were  so  numerous  and  prominent  forty,  or  even 
thirty  years  ago,  nearly  every  trace  has  disappeared. 
For  any  knowledge  beyond  the  scanty  details  hitherto 
recorded  we  are  forced  to  rely  upon  the  recollections  of 
the  "  oldest  inhabitants."  We  know  how  uncertain  this 
reliance  often  is,  and  were  it  otherwise,  we  cannot  but 
recognize  the  rapidity  with  which  we  are  losing  our  hold 
of  this  kind  of  testimony,  and  the  very  brief  period  at 
which  it  must  cease  altogether. 

The  earliest  mention  of  these  relics  which  I  find  is 
by  Haven,  in  his  **  Archaeology  of  the  United  States.*' 
It  is  the  report  of  Verandrier,  who,  with  several  French 
associates,  explored  this  region  before  1748.  He  found 
in  the  western  wilderness  "  large  tracts  free  from  wood, 
many  of  which  are  everywhere  covered  with  furrows,  as 
if  they  had  formerly  been  ploughed  and  sown.*' 

Schoolcraft  was  the  first  to  give  to  the  world  any  accu- 

♦  Read  before  the  State  Pioneer  Society,  February  7,  1877,  and  published 
in  the  American  Antiquarian. 



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rate  and  systematic  account  of  these  "  furrows."  Indeed, 
he  is  the  only  author  of  note  who  honors  this  interesting 
class  of  the  works  of  the  Mound-Builders  with  more  than 
the  most  meagre  mention.  Observations  were  made  by 
him  as  early  as  1827.  He  gives  figures  of  two  kinds  of 
beds,  and  he  records  the  fact,  that  "  the  garden-beds^  and 
not  the  mounds,  form  the  most  prominent,  and,  by  far, 
the  most  striking  and  characteristic  antiquarian  monu- 
ments of  this  district  of  country.** 

Another  writer  of  early  date,  still  resident  of  our  State, 
John  T.  Blois,  published,  in  1839,  '^  ^^^  "Gazetteer  of 
Michigan,**  a  detailed  description,  with  a  diagram,  of  one 
kind  of  the  beds. 

No  mention  is  made  of  these  remains  by  Priest  or  by 
Baldwin.  Foster  devotes  to  them  less  than  a  single  page 
of  his  voluminous  work,  and  only  says,  in  effect,  that 
**  they  certainly  indicate  a  methodical  cultivation  which 
was  not  practised  by  the  red  man.*' 

Dr.  Lapham  describes  a  few  of  this  kind  of  remains 
which  were  found  upon  the  western  shore  of  Lake  Mich- 
igan, as  "  consisting  of  low  parallel  ridges,  as  if  corn  had 
been  planted  in  drills.  They  average  four  feet  in  width, 
and  twenty-five  of  them  have  been  counted  in  the  space 
of  one  hundred  feet.'* 

Yet  these  relics  constitute  a  unique  feature  in  the  anti- 
quities of  our  country.  They  are  of  especial  interest  to 
us,  from  the  fact  that  they  were  not  only  the  most  prom- 
inent of  our  antiquities,  but,  with  the  exception  referred 
to  in  Wisconsin,  they  are  confined  to  our  State. 

Some  investigations,  by  no  means  thorough,  enable  me 
to  define  more  accurately  and  fully  than  has  been  hereto- 
fore done  the  different  kinds  of  these  beds,  which  I  shall 
attempt  to  classify,  according  to  the  most  reliable  infor- 


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mation  obtained.  But  I  must  first  define  their  situation, 
extent  and  character. 

The  so-called  *' Garden-Beds  "  were  found  in  the  val- 
leys of  the  St.  Joseph  and  Grand  rivers,  where  they  oc- 
cupied the  most  fertile  of  the  prairie  land  and  burr-oak 
plains,  principally  in  the  counties  of  St.  Joseph,  Cass  and 

They  consist  of  raised  patches  of  ground,  separated  by 
sunken  paths,  and  were  generally  arranged  in  plats  or 
blocks  of  parallel  beds.  These  varied  in  dimensions, 
being  from  five  to  sixteen  feet  in  width,  in  length  from 
twelve  to  more  than  one  hundred  feet,  and  in  height  six 
to  eighteen  inches. 

The  tough  sod  of  the  prairie  had  preserved  very 
sharply  all  the  outlines.  According  to  the  universal  tes- 
timony, these  beds  were  laid  out  and  fashioned  with  a 
skill,  order  and  symmetry  which  distinguished  them  from 
the  ordinary  operations  of  agriculture,  and  were  com- 
bined with  some  peculiar  features  that  belong  to  no 
recognized  system  of  horticultural  art. 

In  the  midst  of  diversity,  sufficient  uniformity  is  dis- 
coverable to  enable  me  to  group  the  beds  and  gardens,  as 
in  the  following 


1.  Wide  convex  beds,  in  parallel  rows,  without  paths, 

composing  independent  plats.  (Width  of  beds,  12 
feet;  paths,  none;  length,  74  to  115  feet.)     Fig.  i. 

2.  Wide   convex   beds,   in   parallel   rows,    separated   by 

paths  of  same  width,  in  independent  plats.  (Width 
of  bed,  12  to  16  feet ;  paths  same ;  length,  74  to  132 
feet.)     Fig.  2. 

3.  Wide  and  parallel  beds,  separated  by  narrow  paths, 


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arranged  in  a  series  of  plats  longitudinal  to  each 
other.  (Width  of  beds,  14  feet ;  paths,  2  feet ; 
length,  100  feet.)    Fig.  3. 

4.  Long  and  narrow  beds,  separated  by  narrower  paths 

and  arranged  in  a  series  of  longitudinal  plats,  each 
plat  divided  from  the  next  by  semi-circular  heads. 
(Width  of  beds,  5  feet;  paths,  i^  feet;  length, 
100  feet ;  height,  18  inches.)     Fig.  4. 

5.  Parallel  beds,  arranged  in  plats  similar  to  class  4,  but 

divided  by  circular  heads.  (Width  of  beds,  6  feet ; 
paths,  4  feet ;  length,  12  to  40  feet ;  height,  18 
inches.)     Fig.  5. 

6.  Parallel  beds,  of  varying  widths  and  lengths,  separated 

by  narrow  paths,  and '  arranged  in  plats  of  two  or 
more  at  right  angles  N.  and  S.,  E.  and  W.,  to  the 
plats  adjacent.  (Width  of  beds,  5  to  14  feet  ; 
paths,  I  to  2  feet;  length,  12  to  30  feet;  height,  8 
inches.)     Figures  a,  b  and  c^  are  varieties.     Fig.  6. 

7.  Parallel   beds,   of    uniform  width    and   length,  with 

narrow  paths,  arranged  in  plats  or  blocks,  and  single 
beds,  at  varying  angles.  (Width  of  beds,  6  feet ; 
paths,  2  feet ;  length,  about  30  feet ;  height,  10  to 
12  inches.)     Fig.  7. 

8.  Wheel-shaped  plats,  consisting  of  a  circular  bed,  with 

beds  of  uniform  shape  and  size  radiating  therefrom, 
all  separated  by  narrow  paths.  (Width  of  beds,  6 
to  20  feet;  paths,  i  foot;  length,  14  to  20  feet.) 
Fig.  8. 

I  present  diagrams  of  each  of  these  classes  or  kinds  of 
beds.  Of  these  only  those  numbered  i,  2  and  4  have 
ever  before  been  delineated,  to  my  knowledge.  (See 
figures    i    to   8,    pages   257-261.)      Nos.    3   and    5    cire 


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described  by  Schoolcraft  and  Blois,  while  the  others 
are  figured  as  well — i  and  2  by  Schoolcraft  and  4  by 
Blois.  No.  3,  according  to  the  latter,  consists  of  five 
plats,  each  100  feet  long,  20  beds  in  each  plat.  School- 
craft does  not  give  the  exact  localities,  and  I  am  unable 
to  state  whether  beds  of  the  same  class  have  been  no- 
ticed by  other  observers.  As  to  their  extent,  his  lan- 
guage is,  "  The  beds  are  of  various  sizes,  covering  gener- 
ally from  20  to  100  acres."  Some  are  reported  to 
embrace  even  300  acres.  Plats  of  beds  are  undoubtedly 
here  referred  to. 

Of  the  plat  figured  by  Blois  (No.  4),  the  writer  says : 
"  They  are  found  a  short  distance  from  Three  Rivers,  on 
one  side  of  an  oval  prairie,  surrounded  by  burr-oak  plains. 
The  prairie  contains  three  hundred  acres.  The  garden 
is  judged  to  be  half  a  mile  in  length  by  one-third  in 
breadth,  containing  about  one  hundred  acres,  regularly 
laid  out  in  beds  running  north  and  south,  in  the  form  of 
parallelograms,  five  feet  in  width  and  one  hundred  in 
length,  and  eighteen  inches  deep.*'  The  distinctive  pe- 
culiarity of  these  beds  is  what  Blois  calls  the  "  semi- 
lunar" head,  at  the  extremity  of  each  bed,  separated 
from  them  by  a  path  as  represented. 

Class  6,  so  far  as  my  own  inquiries  warrant,  represents 
the  form  and  arrangement  which  is  most  common,  viz.: 
that  of  a  series  of  parallel  beds  formed  into  blocks  of  two 
or  more,  alternating  with  other  similar  blocks  placed  at 
right  angles  to  them.  (See  figures  ^,  b  and  r.)  The  pre- 
vailing width  of  the  bed  is  five  or  six  feet,  and  that  of 
the  paths  one  and  a  half  to  two  feet.  The  lengjh  of  the 
plats  or  blocks  varies,  the  average  being  about  twenty 
feet.     Gardens  of  this  kind  were  found  by  the  early  set- 


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tiers  at  Schoolcraft,  the  burr-oak  plains  at  Kalamazoo, 
Toland's  prairie,  Prairie-Ronde,  and  elsewhere. 

Mr.  Henry  Little  says,  that  in  1831  they  were  very  nu- 
merous on  the  plains  where  now  stands  the  village  of 
Kalamazoo ;  and  south  of  the  mound,  eight  or  ten  acres 
were  entirely  covered  by  them. 

Mr.  E.  Laken  Brown  confirms  this  account,  and  saiys 
they  reminded  him  of  old  New  England  gardens,  being 
very  regular  and  even,  and  the  beds  five  feet  by  twelve 
or  fourteen  feet.  In  1832  the  outlines  were  very  distinct, 
and  the  burr-oak  trees  on  them  as  large  as  any  in  the  vi- 
cinity. Mr.  A.  T.  Prouty  concurs  as  to  the  extent  cov- 
ered, but  thinks  the  beds  were  six  feet  wide  by  twenty-five 
to  forty  long.  On  the  farm  of  J.  T.  Cobb,  section  7,  town 
of  Schoolcraft,  the  beds  were  quite  numerous  as  late  as 
i860.  There  must  have  been  15  acres  of  them  on  his 
land.  The  "  sets  "  would  average  five  or  six  beds  each. 
Neighbors  put  the  number  of  acres  covered  with  them 
in  1830,  within  the  space  of  a  mile,  at  one  hundred. 

Fig,  6'b,  of  class  6,  is  from  a  drawing  by  James  R. 
Cumings,  of  Galesburg,  of  a  garden  in  which  the  beds  are 
of  more  than  usual  diversity  in  width  and  length.  H.  M. 
Shafter  and  Roswell  Ransom,  old  settlers,  say  that  three 
or  four  acres  on  the  edge  of  the  prairie,  at  this  place, 
were  covered  with  the  beds.  On  the  farm  of  the  latter 
in  the  town  of  Comstock,  of  one  hundred  acres,  there 
were  not  less  than  ten  acres  of  beds,  six  feet  by  twenty- 
five  to  forty,  arranged  in  alternate  blocks,  having  a  north- 
and-south  and  east-and-west  direction. 

Fig.  G-Cy  is  from  a  drawing  by  Mr.  Shafter. 

The  series  represented  by  Class  7  (fig.  7)  were  found 
at  Prairie-Ronde.  They  are  platted  and  described  to  me 
by  Messrs.  Cobb  and  Prouty.     They  differ  from  the  more 


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ordinary  form  of  No.  6,  in  the  arrangement  of  the  blocks 
or  sets  of  beds,  which  is  here  not  at  right  angles,  but  at 
various  and  irregular  angles,  also  in  the  single  beds  out- 
lying. The  number  of  beds  in  each  block  is  also  greater 
than  usual. 

Class  8  is  established  on  the  authority  of  Henry  Little 
and  A.  T.  Prouty,  of  Kalamazoo.  The  figure  delineated 
is  from  the  descriptions  and  dimensions  given  by  the  for- 
mer. The  diameter  of  the  circular  bed  and  the  length  of 
the  radiating  ones  are  each  twenty-five  to  thirty  feet. 
The  latter  describes  two  of  similar  design,  but  of  smaller 
dimensions,  the  centre  bed  being  only  six  feet  in  diame- 
ter, and  the  radiating  ones  twenty  feet.  All  occurred  at 
Kalamazoo,  and  in  immediate  association  with  the  other 
forms  of  beds  at  that  place,  represented  generally  by 
Class  6. 

There  is  reason  for  supposing  that  there  may  have 
existed  another  class  of  beds,  differing  altogether  from 
any  I  have  represented,  from  expressions  used  by  bdth 
Schoolcraft  and  Blois.  The  former  speaks  of  **  enigmat- 
ical plats  of  variously  shaped  beds ;  '*  and  further,  **  nearly 
all  the  lines  of  each  area  or  sub-area  of  beds  arc  rectan- 
gular and  parallel.  Others  admit  of  half  circles  and 
variously  curved  beds,  with  avenues,  and  are  differently 
grouped  and  disposed." 

The  latter  says,  the  beds  "appear  in  various  fanciful 
shapes''  Some  are  laid  off  in  rectilineal  and  curvilineal 
figures,  either  distinct  or  combined  in  a  fantastic  manner, 
in  parterres  and  scolloped  work,  with  alleys  between, 
and  apparently  ample  walks  leading  in  different  direc- 

This  language  is  too  vague  to  enable  me  to  construct 
a  diagram,  nor  have  I  any  confirmation  to  offer  from 


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other  sources.  The  reputation  of  the  writers  will  not 
allow  us  to  consider  the  descriptions  fanciful,  but  it  is 
possible  to  suppose  they  were  misled  by  the  representa- 
tions of  others. 

Were  these  vegetable  gardens?  To  answer  this  ques- 
tion, we  must  proceed  according  to  the  doctrine  of 
probabilities.  All  opinions  seem  to  agree,  that  these 
relics  denote  some  species  of  cultivation ;  and  that  they 
are  very  different  from  those  left  by  the  field  culture 
of  any  known  tribes  of  Indians.  Nor  do  we  find  any  sim- 
ilar remains  in'  connection  with  the  works  of  the  Mound- 
Builders,  which  exist,  on  so  extensive  a  scale,  through  the 
valley  of  the  Mississippi  River,  although  those  unknown 
builders  were  undoubtedly  an   agricultural  people. 

The  principal  crop  of  the  Indians  is  maize,  and  this 
was  never  cultivated  by  them  in  rows^  but  in  hillsy  often 
large  but  always  disposed  in  a  very  irregular  manner. 
As  little  do  these  beds  resemble  the  deserted  fields  of 
modern  agriculture.  On  the  other  hand^  the  resemblance 
of  many  of  the  plats  to  the  well-laid  out  garden  beds  of 
our  own  day  is  very  striking  ;  while  the  curvilinear  forms 
suggest  analogies  quite  as  strong  to  the  modern  ^^  pleas- 
ure garden*' 

The  nearest  approach  to  anything  resembling  horticult- 
ural operations  among  Indian  tribes,  within  the  historic 
period,  is  noticed  by  Jones,  who  refers  to  a  practice, 
among  some  of  the  southern  Indians,  of  setting  apart 
separate  pieces  of  ground  for  each  family.  This  author 
quotes  from  Captain  Ribault's  ^*  Discovery  of  Terra 
Florida,**  published  in  London,  1563.  **  They  labor  and 
till  the  ground,  sowing  the  fields  with  a  grain  called 
Mahis,  whereof  they  make  their  meal,  and  in  their  gar- 
dens they  plant  beans,  gourds,  cucumbers,  citrons,  peas, 


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and  many  other  fruits  and  roots  unknown  to  us.  Their 
spades  and  mattocks  are  made  of  wood,  so  well  and  fitly 
as  is  possible." 

In  the  St.  Joseph  Valley  I  learned  of  numerous  places, 
widely  apart,  where  the  labor  and  skill  of  our  ancient 
horticulturists  were  apparent  in  small  gardens,  laid  out  in 
different  styles,  and  with  an  eye  to  the  picturesque ;  as  if 
each  family  had  not  only  its  separate  garden  patch,  but 
had  used  it  for  the  display  of  its  own  peculiar  taste. 

Historians  tell  us  of  the  Aztecs^  that  they  had  gardens 
in  which  were  cultivated  various  plants,  for  medicinal 
uses,  as  well  as  for  ornament.  Was  there  something 
analogous  to  this  in  the  Michigan  Nation  ?  Did  the 
latter  also  have  botanical  gardens  ?  May  we  accord  to 
this  unknown  people  a  considerable  advance  in  science,  in 
addition  to  a  cultivated  taste,  and  an  eye  for  symmetry 
and  beauty,  which  is  without  precedent  among  the  pre- 
historic people  of  this  continent,  north  of  Mexico  ? 

These  extensive  indications  of  ancient  culture  neces- 
sarily imply  a  settled  and  populous  community.  We  are 
led,  therefore,  to  look  for  other  evidences  of  the  num- 
bers and  character  of  the  people  who  made  them.  But 
here  an  extraordinary  fact  presents  itself;  such  evidences 
are  almost  wanting !  The  testimony  of  nearly  every  one 
whom  I  have  consulted — men  who  were  among  the  first 
of  the  white  race  to  break  up  the  sod,  that  for  ages  had 
consecrated  these  old  garden  lands — agrees  in  the  fact, 
that  almost  none  of  the  usual  aboriginal  relics  were 
found  ;  no  pottery ;  no  spear-  and  arrow-heads ;  no  im- 
plements of  stone ;  not  even  the  omnipresent  pipe. 
Tumuli,  or  burial  mounds  of  the  red  man,  are  not  un- 
common, though  not  numerous,  in  Western  Michigan, 
but  have  no  recognized  association  with  the  garden  race. 


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Upon  the  St.  Joseph  and  Colorado  rivers,  and  in  the 
town  of  Prairie-Ronde,  exist  several  small  circular  and 
rectangular  embankments,  resembling  the  lesser  works  of 
the  Mound-Builders  so  numerous  in  Ohio.  But  no  con- 
nection can  be  traced  between  these  detached  earthworks 
and  the  garden-beds.  None  of  them  seem  to  have  been 
the  bases  of  buildings,  nor  do  they  give  indication  of  any 
religious  origin  or  rites.  There  are  no  traces  of  dwell- 
ings, and  the  soil  which  has  so  sacredly  preserved  the 
labor  of  its  occupants,  discloses  not  even  their  bones ! 

At  Three  Rivers,  and  in  Gilead,  Branch  County,  are 
some  ancient  embankments,  which  are  probably  referable 
to  this  people,  and  may  pass  for  works  of  defence.  That 
at  the  first  named  place  was  notably  extensive.  It  con- 
sisted only  of  an  earth  embankment,  about  six  feet  in 
height,  extending  between  two  forks  of  a  river,  a  mile 
apart.  It  thus  enclosed  a  large  area,  and  with  a  sufficient 
garrison  might  have  withstood  the  siege  of  a  large  army 
of  barbarous  warriors. 

It  seems  strange,  indeed,  that  these  garden  beds,  sug- 
gestive as  they  are,  should  be  the  only  memorials  of  a 
race  which  has  left  such  an  evidence  of  civilized  advance- 
ment, and  was  worthy  of  more  enduring  monuments! 
We  may  reasonably  conclude,  that  they  were  a  people  of 
peaceable  disposition^  of  laborious  habits,  and  of  aesthetic 
if  not  scientific  tastes ;  that  they  lived  in  simple  and 
patriarchal  style,  subsisting  on  the  fruits  of  the  earth, 
rather  than  of  the  chase.  Their  dwellings  and  their  tools 
were  of  wood,  and  have  perished.  This  simple  record  of 
their  character  and  labors  is  all,  it  may  be,  we  can  ever 

But  is  this  all?     May  we  not  form  some  reasonable 


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conjecture  as  to  the  period  in  which  these  gardeners 

A  fact  mentioned  by  Dr.  Lapham  furnishes  a  species 
of  evidence,  as  to  the  relative  antiquity  of  the  garden 
beds  of  Wisconsin,  as  compared  with  the  animal  mounds. 
They  were  found  overlying  the  latter;  from  which  he 
infers,  of  course,  a  more  recent  origin.  We  may  also 
suppose  a  considerably  more  recent  age,  since  it  is  not 
likely  that  the  race  could  have  thus  encroached  upon  the 
works  of  another,  until  long  after  these  had  been  aban- 
doned, and  their  religious  or  other  significance  forgotten. 

The  date  of  the  abandonment  of  the  beds  may  be  ap- 
proximately fixed,  by  the  age  of  the  trees  found  growing 
upon  them.  One  of  these  mentioned  by  Schoolcraft,  cut 
dowti  in  1837,  had  335  cortical  layers.  This  carries  the 
period  back  as  far  as  1502,  or  some  years  prior  to  the 
discovery  of  this  country  by  the  French.  How  long 
these  labors  were  abandoned  befofe  this  tree  commenced 
its  growth  may  not  be  susceptible  of  proof.  Early 
French  explorers  do  not  appear  to  have  been  interested 
in  the  question,  and  it  does  not  seem  to  me  necessary  to 
go  further  back  than  the  three  centuries  during  which 
that  tree  flourished,  for  a  period  quite  long  enough  to 
have  crumbled  into  indistinguishable  dust  every  trace 
of  wooden  dwellings  and  implements,  as  well  as  of  the 
bodies  of  their  fabricators,  if  the  latter  received  only 
simple  earth  burial. 

At  the  time  of  the  arrival  of  the  French  the  country 
was  in  possession  of  Algonquin  tribes,  who  emigrated 
from  the  St.  Lawrence  about  the  middle  of  the  i6th  cent- 
ury. They  were  ignorant  of  the  authors  of  these  works, 
and  were  not  more  advanced  in  the  arts  of  culture  than 
the  other  known  tribes. 


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It  IS  probable  that  the  few  defensive  works  I  have 
mentioned  were  erected  by  this  settled  and  peaceful 
race  of  gardeners,  as  places  of  temporary  refuge  for  the 
women  and  children,  against  the  raids  of  the  warlike 
tribes  living  eastward  of  them.  The  larger  one  may  have 
served  for  the  general  defence  in  a  time  of  sudden  and 
great  emergency.  It  is  probable  that  on  some  such  occa- 
sion they  were  surprised  by  their  savage  and  relentless 
foes,  and  were  overwhelmed,  scattered  or  exterminated. 

Most  of  the  facts  I  have  been  able  to  present  are  gath- 
ered, in  large  part,  from  the  memories — of  course  not 
always  exact  or  reliable — of  early  settlers,  and  after 
modern  culture  had  for  many  years  obliterated  the  old. 

It  is  perhaps  useless  to  regret  that  these  most  inter- 
esting and  unique  relics  of  a  lost  people  have  so  com- 
pletely perished,  through  the  greed  of  the  dominant 
race ;  or  that  they  could  not  have  received,  while  they 
yet  remained,  the  mc^re  exact  and  scientific  scrutiny 
which  is  now  being  applied  to  the  antiquities  of  our  land. 
Much  that  might  then  have  been  cleared  up,  must  now 
remain  forever  involved  in  mystery,  or  be  left  to  conject- 

In  September,  1885,  the  writer  visited  the  region  of 
the  ancient  garden  beds,  in  hopes  of  being  so  fortunate 
as  to  find  some  remaining.  He  did  discover,  near  School- 
craft, on  a  plat  of  land  which  had  been  recently  cleared 
of  its  timber,  a  few  traces  of  beds,  belonging  to  a  set, 
most  of  which  had  been  broken  up  by  the  plough. 

Four  or  five  beds  could  be  distinctly  traced,  for  the 
distance  of  some  ten  to  fifteen  feet.  The  remainder  of 
th^ir  lengths,  said   to  be  some  twenty  to  thirty  feet,  had 


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been  obliterated  by  cultivation.  Each  bed  had  a  width 
of  about  ten  feet  from  centre  to  centre  of  the  interven- 
ing paths.  The  latter  had  apparently  a  width  of  two  or 
three  feet,  but  it  was  impossible  to  define  the  exact  out- 

After  much  inquiry  I  could  learn  of  no  other  place  in 
or  near  Prairie-Ronde,  or  the  plains  of  St.  Joseph  and 
Kalamazoo  coiinties,  where  any  traces  of  the  old  garden 
beds  remained. 

Mr.  Cobb  informed  me  that  about  1859  ^^  endeavored 
to  preserve  portions  of  a  set  of  these  beds,  which  were 
well  covered  by  tough,  protective  prairie  sod.  But 
when  the  white  grub  took  possession  of  the  turf  there- 
abouts his  ancient  garden  reserve  did  not  "escape.  In  a 
year  or  two  the  hogs,  in  their  search  for  the  grub,  had  so 
rooted  and  marred  the  outlines  that  he  ploughed  the 
beds  up. 

I  found  many  old  residents  who  well  remembered 
the  garden  plats  as  they  appeared  a  half  century  ago,  and 
all  concurred  in  the  admiration  excited  by  their  peculiar 
character  and  the  perfection  of  their  preservation.  Mr. 
Cobb  says,  he  often  took  his  friends  to  see  his  "  ancient 
garden,**  counted  the  beds,  and  speculated  upon  their 
object.  The  set  of  beds,  which  is  shown  only  partially  in 
his  sketch  (Fig.  7),  contained  thirteen  beds,  and  was  the 
largest  of  the  sets.  The  others  averaged  five  or  six  beds 

All  concurred,  too,  as  to  the  great  extent  of  land, 
amounting  to  several  hundred  acres,  covered,  wholly  or 
partially,  by  the  beds,  chiefly  upon  the  northern  edge  of 
the  prairie.  That  all  visible  evidence  of  their  existence 
should  have  so  completely  disappeared  is  not  surprising 
to  any  one  wTio   notes  their  situation,  upon  the  richest 


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portions  of  the  mixed  prairies  and  plains.  The  lands 
most  esteemed  by  the  garden  race  were  those  which  first 
attracted  the  modern  farmer.  These  lands  still  consti- 
tute fields  as  the  eye  can  anywhere  rest  upon, 
and  in  a  region  second  in  loveliness  to  no  other  part  of 
our  country.  The  wants  of  the  early  settler  almost  pre- 
clude any  care  for  the  preservation  of  what  was  regarded 
as  mere  curiosities.  Even  when  spared  from  the  plough, 
and  left  to  the  care  of  nature,  the  absence  of  the  annual 
fires,  which  had  prevented  the  growth  of  timber;  the 
roots  of  trees  upheaving  the  beds;. the  decay  of  fallen 
timber ;  the  hummocks  caused  by  upturned  roots  ;  the 
destruction  of  the  turf  by  the  forest  growth,  and  by  cattle 
and  hogs,  all  tend  to  deface  the  beds,  and  leave  them  to 
be  reduced  to  the  general  level  by  the  elements.  Under 
these  circumstances,  a  few  years  even  would  suffice  to  ob- 
literate outlines  which  had  remained  almost  unaltered 
for  centuries. 


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Fig.  I. 

156  ft. 

Fig.  2. 

132  ft. 



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Fig.  3- 



Fig.  4. 

ICO  fit. 



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Fig-  S 

12  to  40  ft. 


Fig.  6. 



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Fig.  6. 




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Fig.  7. 


Fig.  8. 


Digitized  by  VjOOQIC 


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"  Piscator.  I  hope  I  may  take  as  great  a  liberty  to  blame  any  man,  and 
laugh  al  him  too,  let  him  be  never  so  grave,  that  hath  not  heard  what  an- 
glers can  say  in  the  justification  of  their  art  and  recreation ;  which  I  may 
again  tell  you,  is  so  full  of  pleasure  that  we  need  not  borrow  their  thoughts, 
to  think  ourselves  happy.'* 

*'  But  the  poor  fish  have  enemies  enough,  besides  such  unnatural  fisher- 
men ;  (natural  enemies)  against  all  which  any  honest  man  may  make  a  just 
quarrel — ^but  I  will  not-  I  will  leave  them  to  be  quarrelled  with  and  killed 
by  others :  for  I  am  not  of  a  cruel  nature,  I  love  to  kill  nothing  but  fish." — 
IzAAK  Walton,  Complete  Angler, 


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Springwells, ,  1 84 1. 

DEAR  TOM:— What  you  ask  of  me  will,  I  fear, 
prove  in  the  recording  of  less  interest  than  you  are 
pleased  to  anticipate.  Nevertheless  you  stimulate  me  to 
the  attempt. 

I  confess  to  but  little  of  the  zeal  of  honest  Izaak 
Walton,  and  accomplish  scarcely  any  exploits  in  the  pis- 
catory line.  Nor  have  we  any  rippling  brooks,  whose 
active  inhabitants,  brilliant  and  shy,  call  forth  the  high- 
est exercise  of  the  art.  But  our  clear  and  rapid  river 
abounds  in  excellent  fish,  of  many  noted  kinds.  To 
manage  the  pole  and  line,  however  it  may  require  some 
skill,  seems  to  me  but  a  lazy  sport,  in  our  broad  stream, 
compared  with  the  ways  and  means  for  ensnaring  the 
shy  denizens  of  the  smaller  water  courses.  Unfortu- 
nately there  is  not  a  trout  brook,  that  is,  a  stream  con- 
taining  real  "  brook  trout,'*  in  the  whole  peninsula. 

In  admitting  this  I  derogate  nothing  from  the  purity 
of  our  waters.  No  element  can  be  more  fresh  and  lim- 
pid than  that  which  flows  in  such  immense  volume  di- 
rectly before  me.  Neither  have  we  the  eel,  which  de- 
lights in  sluggish  and  muddy  waters:  none  have  been 
found  above  the  falls  of  Niagara.  The  moment  the 
Straits  of  Mackinaw  are  crossed  the  brook  trout  is  found 
in  abundance,  in  all  the  rills  of  the  upper  peninsula. 
Some  other  reason  exists  for  the  absence  of  this  fish  from 
the  lower  streams  than  the  character  of  their  waters,  for 



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266  ^^SH  AND  FISHING. 

all  these,  as  well  as  the  interior  lakes  that  exist  so  nu- 
merously in  Michigan,  abound  in  the  same  kinds  of  fish  as 
are  found  in  the  Eastern  States.  And  we  have  in  the 
"  grayling  *'  of  our  peninsula  as  gamy  a  fish,  as  brilliant 
in  color  and  of  as  handsome  form,  and  as  delicate  in  the 
eating,  as  the  true  brook  trout.  Many  sportsmen,  as 
well  as  gourmands,  indeed,  give  him  the  preference. 

I  have  two  prosaic  methods  of  capturing  some  of 
our  finest  Detroit  River  fish,  which  involve  little  trouble 
and  no  waste  of  time.  One  is  by  "  night  lines."  A 
strong  cord  is  needed,  with  large  hook  and  sinker,  and 
the  best  bait  is  pork.  This  line  is  fastened,  at  one  end, 
to  the  shore,  and  is  carried  out  at  evening  to  the  dis- 
tance of  several  rods  by  boat,  or  is  thrown  by  force  of 
arm  as  far  out  as  possible.  It  sinks  to  the  bottom  and 
remains  until  morning,  when  it  is  drawn  in,  and  usually 
affords  me  the  satisfaction  of  taking  off  a  large  pike  or 
pickerel,  or  a  black  bass.  Sometimes,  it  is  true,  my  rea- 
sonable expectations  are  disappointed,  by  a  huge  cat-head 
or  a  dog-fish.  Such  are  generally  thrown  away  as  worth- 
less, but  having  learned  the  secret  of  cooking  properly, 
they  prove  to  be  no  despicable  food.  So  you  see  "  all 
is  fish  that  comes  to  my  net."  In  fact,  French  cook- 
ery can  accomplish  almost  any  wonder,  from  making  pal- 
atable a  roasted  gull  to  a  savory  muskrat  stew ! 

A  more  ingenious  and  even  a  more  profitable  and 
*easy  mode  of  fishing  was  suggested  by  the  cove,  which 
sets  up  from  the  river  across  my  claim.  As  soon  as  the 
ice  breaks  up  in  the  spring,  fish  from  the  river,  in  pur- 
suit of  early  worms  and  insects,  enter  the  cove  and  work 
their  way  up  the  current,  until  it  loses  itself  in  the  mead- 
ows. Boys  hunt  them  in  these  shallows,  whence  they 
are  frequently  unable   to  retrace  their  course,     I  have 


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overtaken  accidentally  and  killed  with  an  axe  a  very 
large  fish,  as  I  was  traversing  the  fields. 

The  road  from  my  house  to  the  fields  crosses  this 
cove,  leaving  a  narrow  channel,  which  is  bridged.  On 
the  upper  side  of  the  bridge  has  been  constructed  a  trap, 
or  "fyke.**  It  consists  of  a  box  formed  of  strips  of 
boards,  so  nailed  as  to  permit  free  passage  to  the  water, 
but  not  to  a  fish  of  a  size  worth  detaining.  This  box, 
which  is  about  four  feet  square,  is  firmly  fixed  by  stakes, 
and  occupies  half  the  width  of  the  channel.  The  other 
half  is  obstructed  by  stakes,  so  driven  as  to  divert  the 
fish  in  their  progress  up  the  current,  towards  the  box. 
The  latter  has  a  wide  opening  on  the  bridge  side,  to 
which  are  nailed  laths  or  small  strips  converging  to 
near  the  centre,  on  the  plan  of  the  old-fashioned  wire 
mouse  trap. 

By  this ,  simple  contrivance  do  we  manage  to  secure 
many  a  fine  fat  pickerel,  and  I  have  known  the  water 
absolutely  black  with  the  multitude  of  fish  caught  in  a 
single  day.  Later  in  the  season  the  run  of  the  better 
kinds  ceases,  and  bull-heads  are  almost  the  only  sort  that 
enter.  Fish  are  taken  from  the  trap  by  means  of  a  small 
scoop-net.  The  slender  long-nosed  pike  {Esox  reticula- 
tus),  here  called  pickerel,  is  often  a  foot  and  a  half  in 
length,  and  furnishes  a  good  meal. 

Another  curious  mode  of  fishing  is  sometimes  prac- 
tised here,  and  which,  to  me,  was  entirely  novel.  The 
fish  that  frequent  my  pond  have  a  habit  of  basking  near 
the  surface,  where  they  lie  perfectly  still  for  a  long  time 
enjoying  the  superior  warmth ;  for  it  seems  that  even 
creatures  whose  veins  are  not  chilled  by  the  icy  touch  of 
winter  derive  pleasure  from  the  warm  rays  of  the  life- 
giving  sun.     The  snake   loves  the  heated  dust  of  the 


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268  ^^^^  ^^^  FISHING. 

road-way.  Frogs,  turtles,  and  indeed  all  amphibious  and 
cold-blooded  animals,  indulge  in  the  same  kind  of  enjoy- 

While  thus  taking  their  ease,  and  apparently  in  a 
quiet  sleep,  along  the  shore  glides  an  artful  rogue  of  a 
boy.  With  cautious  movement — for  a  fish,  be  it  remem- 
bered, sleeps  with  both  eyes  open — he  brings  to  the 
level  of  his  shoulder,  what !  a  fowling-piece  !  Bang ! — 
the  fish  is  seen  floating  on  its  side.  He  is  not  killed, 
only  stunned.  Quick  now,  or  the  prey  escapes.  Here, 
Veto,  the  pond  is  too  muddy  for  any  limbs  but  yours. 
The  dog  too  must  be  expeditious,  otherwise  the  prey  re- 
covers his  momently  lost  faculties,  and  in  the  twinkling 
of  an  eye  (canine  or  human,  of  course,  not  fish)  is  off  to 
deeper  water. 

But  all  this  is  small  game,  merely  boy's  play,  compared 
with  the  catching  of  white-fish  {Coregonus  albus).  All 
the  world  is  now  familiar  with  this  lustrous  and  exquisite 
fish,  with  which  our  strait  and  lakes  abound,  and  which 
has  come  to  be  an  important  article  of  commerce. 

In  our  river  they  are  taken  only  with  seines  or  drag- 
nets, in  the  spring  and  fall.  The  latter  is  the  season  of 
the  great  run,  and  commences  with  the  approach  of  cold 
weather  in  October,  lasting  until  nearly  winter.  Several 
of  these  fishing-grounds  are  in  my  vicinity ;  and  many  a 
time  have  I  watched  the  boats  as  they  pull  up  the  stream, 
— a  song  keeping  time  to  the  oars — drop  the  net,  and  row 
rapidly  back  to  the  shore.  Here  both  ends  are  drawn  in 
by  a  horse-windlass,  the  bag  of  the  net  soon  appearing, 
distended  with  the  shining  captives.  These  are  thrown 
into  a  pile,  from  which  the  finest  and  largest  may  be 
selected  at  five  to  ten  cents  apiece. 

The  largest  and  best  white-fish  are  taken  further  up 


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the  lakes,  the  ordinary  weight  of  those  from  our  river 
being  about  four  or  five  pounds.  In  lakes  Huron  and 
Michigan  they  average  five  or  six  pounds,  and  in  Lake 
Superior  attain  to  ten  pounds,  and  even  more.  The 
largest  I  ever  saw  was  estimated  to  weigh  twelve  to  fif- 
teen pounds,  and  had  been  pulled  ashore  by  an  otter  out 
of  the  cold  waters  of  our  great  lake.  The  creature  made 
off  on  the  approach  of  our  boat,  relinquishing  his  prey 
to  our  superior  claims — the  right  of  the  strongest. 

The  seine,  of  course,  catches  all  kinds  of  fish  that  come 
within  its  sweep,  and  are  not  too  small  to  escape  through 
its  two-and-a-half-inch  meshes.  Among  these  is  occa- 
sionally a  huge  sturgeon,  often  of  forty  pounds  weight. 
And  more  rarely  that  prince  of  a  fish  and  delicate  bonne 
bouche^  the  muskallonge  {Esox  estor. — Cuv.).  The  latter 
is  also  taken  by  hook  and  line  in  our  river  and  in  Lake 
Ste.  Claire. 

Another  fish  of  the  salmon  family  is  caught  in  great 
numbers  in  the  lakes  above,  and  is  an  article  of  commerce 
only  second  in  importance  to  the  white-fish — the  salmon 
trout  {Salmo  amethystus).  It  is  much  larger  than  its 
white  cousin,  attaining  to  forty  pounds.  Though  a 
hard  fleshed  and  admirable  fish,  it  lacks  the  delicate  flavor 
which  makes  the  white-fish  so  dainty  a  dish  for  the  epi- 

There  is  a  secret  about  this  matter  of  flavor  which  not 
every  cook  knows,  though  Indians  and  Frenchmen  well 
understand  it.  On  my  first  visit  to  the  "Sault,'*  our 
party  were  invited  to  the  house  of  an  Indian  trader,  to 
dine.  Our  host,  a  Scotsman,  had  been  many  years  on  the 
frontier,  and  had  fallen  into  the  fashion  of  the  country 
and  the  times,  and  taken  unto  himself  an  Indian  wife. 

It  was  his  squaw  who  cooked  our  meal,  and  who  waited 


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on  US  at  the  table,  not  presuming  to  sit  or  eat  with  us. 
I  observed  that  immediately  after  our  arrival  our  host 
sent  out  to  the  shore  of  the  rapids  for  a  white-fish, 
and  having  procured  the  largest  and  finest  male  speci- 
men, that  had  just  been  drawn  out  of  the  foaming  waters, 
it  was  at  once  dressed,  broiled  and  served  up.  "  Twenty- 
minutes  ago  exactly,*'  said  our  entertainer,  as  he  di- 
vided a  steaming  portion  to  each  guest,  "  this  fish  was 
enjoying  his  native  element.  Had  he  been  half  an  hour 
dead  no  understanding  gourmand  would  have  thought 
him  worthy  of  his  table.  He  must  be  eaten  while  the 
flesh  is  hard,  for  .it  softens  immediately  with  keeping. 
The  flesh  of  the  trout  is  harder  and  will  keep  longer.*' 

Another  fish  familiar  to  me,  and  esteemed  by  the 
ichthyophagist,  is  caught  in  limited  quantities,  and  only 
in  Lake  Superior, — the  siskiwit.  It  is  much  too  oily  to 
be  eaten  fresh,  being  a  mere  mass  of  fat,  but  is  good 
salted  and  smoked,  and  in  this  state  resembles  a  very  fat 
mackerel.  Lake  Superior  furnishes  another  white-fish, 
of  the  genus  Corygonus,  which  far  exceeds  in  size  the 
river  species.  It  is  caught  with  gill-nets,  at  a  depth  of 
from  six  to  sixty  fathoms,  and  has  been  known  to  attain 
the  weight  of  forty-five  pounds !  The  scales  on  throat 
and  belly  are  tinged  a  rusty  red.  Otherwise,  except  in  its 
enormous  protuberance,  it  resembles  the  common  white- 
fish.     Like  most  overgrown  things,  it  is  coarse  in  flesh. 

Before  concluding  my  "angling**  experiences,  I  must 
relate  a  yet  more  novel  method  of  fish  capture,  of  which 
I  was  witness,  "  et  quorum  pars  fui,*'  in  one  of  my  wan- 
derings upon  our  great  inland  waters.  Our  party,  land- 
ing at  a  rocky  island  in  Lake  Huron,  came  suddenly 
upon  a  shoal  of  fish,  that  were  gambolling  in  the  light 
surf   that   broke   among   the   boulders  which   lined   the 


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shore.  They  were  not  porpoises,  as  you  might  suppose 
had  it  been  an  ocean  shore,  but  sturgeon,  better  known 
in  a  distant  part  of  the  country  as  **  Albany  beef."  So 
engaged  were  they  in  their  sport  as  to  be  unconscious  of 
our  presence,  while  we  stripped  and  waded  in  among 
them.  We  thus  succeeded  in  nabbing  several  with  our 
hands  alone,  and  after  a  pretty  hard  tussle  one  fine 
fellow  was  safely  landed.  It  kept  our  larder  in  beef 
and  chicken  for  several  days. 

On  the  flats  of  Lake  Ste.  Claire  a  novel  scene  may  be 
witnessed  from  a  boat  floating  over  the  shallows ;  namely, 
sturgeon  in  the  act  oi pumping.  This  is  their  mode  of  sup- 
plying themselves  with  craw-fish.  These  burrow  in  the 
sand,  leaving  holes  behind  them.  Here  the  fish  stations 
himself,  with  his  mouth  over  the  hole,  and  by  a  strong 
effort  of  suction  produces  a  current  in  the  water,  which  is 
drawn  violently  into  his  mouth.  Considerable  sand  ac- 
companies, which  is  ejected  by  the  gills,  and  settles  in 
piles  or  ridges  on  either  side.  Whether  or  not  the  craw- 
fish comes  out  from  his  retreat  to  see  what  all  the  com- 
motion is  about,  or  whether  he  comes  because  he  cannot 
help  it,  certain  it  is  that  up  he  comes,  the  torrent  carry- 
ing him  directly  into  the  mouth  of  the  wily  fish  ;  but  he 
does  not  pass  out  through  the  gills. 

I  was  once  party  to  an  easy  kind  of  fish  capture 
among  the  hollows,  in  the  rocky  bed  of  a  small  rapid 
stream  on  Lake  Superior.  Numbers  of  suckers  were  rest- 
ing in  these  hollows,  in  the  attempt  to  make  their  way  up 
the  ascent.  We  caught  and  threw  many  ashore  with  our 
hands.  But  they  paid  only  in  the  sport,  as  they  were 
poor  eating. 

There  are  other  modes  of  catching  the  white  and  other 
fish  of  commerce  of  our  waters  besides  the  seine,  and 


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much  controversy  has  arisen  among  fishermen  as  to  the 
respective  merits  and  demerits  of  the  different  methods. 

At  the  Falls  of  St.  Mary  both  white-fish  and  salmon 
trout  are  taken  by  the  Indians  with  scoop-nets,  as  also 
.  with  the  spear,  in  the  very  midst  of  the  foaming  rapids, 
where  the  fish  are  temporarily  stopped  in  their  upward 
passage.  It  is  a  very  exciting  spectacle  to  see  numbers 
of  Jbark  canoes  darting,  light  as  feathers,  in  the  boiling 
eddies,  at  the  foot  of  the  great  "  leap,*'  an  Indian  con- 
trolling its  dexterous  movements  with  a  long  pole,  while 
another  stands  at  the  bow,  with  spear,  or  scoop,  at  the 
end  of  another  pole,  watching  the  finny  prey.  In  winter, 
trout  are  caught  here  by  hook  and  line,  dropped  through 
holes  in  the  ice;  but  the  white-fish  never,  or  seldom — 
for  the  fact  is  vouched  for, — bites  at  the  hook. 

Another  mode  of  catching  white-fish,  which  has  in- 
creased greatly  within  the  past  few  years,  and  in  many 
localities  almost  superseded  the  seine,  is  by  ^e  trap  or 
pound-net.  This  consists  of  a  net  called  the  "lead,'* 
having  meshes  of  five  inches  from  knot  to  knot,  which  is 
fastened  at  one  end  to  the  shore  and  reaches  into  deeper 
water,  where  it  joins  another  net,  called  the  "pot." 
The  latter  has  meshes  of  only  half  the  size  of  the  first, 
the  object  of  the  lead  being  to  divert  the  fish,  from  their 
passage  along  the  shallow  grounds,  into  the  trap  or 

The  vast  increase  of  our  fisheries  during  the  last  ten 
years,  and  the  repeated  observations  of  intelligent  fish- 
ermen, as  well  as  of  a  few  scientific  observers,  have  elic- 
ited many  curious  facts  in  the  life  history  of  the  white- 
fish,  which  are  of  great  interest. 

The  following  facts  seem  to  be  Well  established : 

The  white-fish  is  short  lived,  and  of  very  rapid  growth. 


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maturing  the  second  year,  and  ending  its  life  with  the 

The  spawn  is  deposited  in  the  fall  (October  and 
November),  in  shallow  water,  and  the  hatching  takes 
place  in  the  spring,  or  first  month  of  summer,  according 
to  locality. 

Soon  after  hatching,  the  young  fry  withdraw  into  deep, 
cold  water,  where  they  remain  until  the  summer. of  the 
following  year. 

They  then  commence  their  return  to  the  hatching 
grounds,  for  the  purpose  of  spawning.  And  it  is  well 
attested, — incredible  as  the  fact  may  seem, — that  during 
the  three  months  succeeding,  or  between  June  and  Sep- 
tember, they  increase  in  size  from  about  two  and  a  half 
ounces  to  from  four  to  nine  or  ten  pounds  weight.  In 
other  words,  from  mere  minnows  of  one  year  they  attain 

Early  in  the  summer  of  the  third  year  they  retire  again 
into  deep  waters,  and  are  seen  no  more.  The  white-fish 
is  a  bottom-feeder,  and  lives  upon  the  young,  or  aquatic 
larvae  of  the  ephemera,  which  are  found  in  the  river 

These  fish  do  not  migrate,  as  was  formerly  supposed, 
from  the  lower  to  the  higher  lakes,  the  superior  size  of 
those  found  in  the  latter  being  due  to  the  local  breed, 
and  not  to  age.  Fish  of  the  same  locality  are  of  remark- 
ably uniform  size. 

During  the  summer  months,  it  will  be  observed,  the 
fish  of  the  second  year  are  making  their  way  up  from  the 
deep  waters  to  the  spawning  grounds,  while  the  old 
fishes  are  returning  to  the  deep  water  to  die.  The  fish- 
ing season  is  therefore  confined  to  the  spring  and  fall, — 


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274  ^^^^  ^^^  FISHING, 

from  the  time  the  ice  leaves  until  about  the  middle  of 
June,  and  from  September  to  the  end  of  November. 

At  these  seasons  only  full-grown  fish  are  liable  to  be 

It  is  contended  by  advocates  of  the  exclusive  use  of 
the  seine  that  the  stock  of  fish  is  being  needlessly  dimin- 
ished by  the  use  of  the  pound,  which  takes  the  fish  indis- 
criminately, the  small  with  the  large,  whole  schools  being 
taken  at  once. 

On  the  other  hand,  it  is  maintained  that  the  pound-net 
cannot  so  operate,  for  the  reason  that  the  minnows  and 
half-grown  fish  escape  through  the  meshes  of  the  lead. 
And  further,  that  by  the  constant  capture  of  the  stur- 
geon and  long-lived  fishes  of  the  sucker  tribe,  which  live 
upon  the  spawn  of  the  white-fish,  the  annual  stock  of  the 
latter  is  on  the  increase  wherever  these  nets  are  in  con- 
stant use. 

It  is  also  said  that  it  is  impossible  to  diminish  the 
number,  no  matter  how  many  are  taken,  because  only 
those  are  caught  which  have  matured  and  never  prop- 
agate again.  Some  further  time  and  observation  must 
yet  be  had  before  these  questions  can  be  fully  settled. 

It  is  remarkable  that  the  spawning  season  of  the  white- 
fish,  unlike  that  of  most  other  fishes,  should  be  in  the 
fall.  Still  more  remarkable  is  the  extraordinarily  rapid 
growth,  from  a  minnow  of  two  or  three  ounces  to  a  full- 
grown  adult,  in  the  short  space  of  less  than  three  months. 
It  is  probable  that  much  of  the  delicacy  of  flavor  of  this 
celebrated  fish  is  due  to  this  rapid  growth. 

There  is  a  notion  among  fishermen — who  have,  usually, 
numerous  offspring, — that  the  prolific  qualities  of  this 
fish  are  bestowed  upon  its  consumers.  Whatever  of 
truth  there  may  be  in  this  tradition,  certainly  the  great 


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fish-eating  locality,  Mackinaw,  beais  a  charmed  reputa- 
tion, as  a  favorable  resort  for  ladies  who  desire  an  in- 
crease of  their  families. 

Schoolcraft  hints  at  this  quality,  in  the  following  lines 
from  his  poem,  **  The  White-fish  "  : 

"  And  oft  the  sweet  morsel  up-poised  on  the  knife, 
Excites  a  bland  smile  from  the  blooming  young  wife ; 
Nor  dreams  she  a  sea-fish  one  moment  compares, 
But  is  thinking  the  while  not  of  fish  but  of  heirs." 

The  trade  in  the  white-fish  has  been  steadily  on  the 
increase,  and  has  become  a  very  important  and  profitable 
one  to  our  State. 

The  first  fishery  from  which  any  export  was  made  was 
that  of  Mr.  Barnabus  Campau,  on  Belle  Isle  (late  Isle  au 
Cochon  of  the  French),  in  1825,  but  the  trade  continued 
small  and  unprofitable  until  the  tide  of  emigration  set  in, 
about  ten  years  later.  From  that  time  the  fisheries, 
which  had  been  confined  to  Detroit  River,  gradually  ex- 
tended to  the  lake  borders,  and  during  the  present  year 
two  schooners  have  been  hauled  around  the  rapids  into 
Lake  Superior,  to  assist  in  bringing  this  fine  product  of 
that  noble  lake  into  the  market. 

Sincerely  Yours. 

Since  the  above  was  written,  forty  years  ago,  fisheries 
have  not  only  been  largely  extended,  but  stringent  laws 
have  been  enacted  for  their  regulation.  Active  measures 
are  also  being  taken  by  both  the  general  and  State  gov- 
ernments, for  stocking  our  streams  and  lakes  with  young 
fry,  artificially  hatched,  of  the  kinds  most  suitable. 

In  1 841   about  30,000  barrels  of  white-fish  only  were 


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packed  annually.  Probably  not  less  than  50,000  are 
now  sold  annually  by  Detroit  merchants  alone. 

In  1868  half  a  million  of  white-fish  were  captured  by 
Detroit  River  fisheries,  as  many  as  20,000  being  some- 
times secured  in  a  single  haul  of  the  seine. 

Though  the  fishing  season  proper  is  in  the  spring  and 
fall,  modern  luxury,  at  the  time  when  this  note  is  being 
recorded,  has  invented  methods  for  bringing  to  our  tables 
at  all  times  of  the  year  this  estimable  food.  Not  only 
are  the  finer  sorts  brought  from  the  cold  waters  of  the 
upper  lakes,  packed  in  ice,  and  with  their  firmness  and 
delicacy  little  impaired,  but  they  are  transported  in  the 
same  frozen  condition  to  the  most  distant  markets. 

In  1855,  Mr.  George  Clark,  of  Detroit,  inaugurated  a 
method  of  impounding  the  fish,  at  the  time  of  the  fall 
fishing,  by  dragging  them  by  means  of  the  nets  into  large 
pens,  where  they  are  kept  alive  and  sound  for  the  winter 
supply.  There  is  a  very  large  demand,  and  the  trade  is 
carried  on  in  Detroit  chiefly.  Probably  not  less  than  half 
a  million  are  sent  from  here  annually,  the  produce  of 
these  winter  pens. 

How  well  I  remember  the  time  when  the  fishing  season 
— at  which  time  alone  could  this  dainty  fare  be  obtained 
— was  looked  forward  to  by  the  old  residents  with  pleas- 
ure and  impatience,  and  one  of  the  hardships  of  a  removal 
to  other  parts  of  the  country  was  experienced  in  the 
longing  after  this  favorite  dish.  Now  this  "  deer  of  the 
lakes** — par  excellence — is  not  only  universally  known, 
but  is  procurable  cheaply,  at  all  seasons,  both  fresh  and 
salted,  from  the  lakes  to  the  Gulf,  and  from  the  Missis- 
sippi to  Cape  Cod.  It  has  even  overleaped  these  bounds* 
and  is  shipped  direct  to  Liverpool. 

But  this  constant  drain  has  of  late  years,  in  spite  of  all 


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precautions,  tended  to  constantly  diminish  the  annual 
catch.  The  gill-net  has  superseded  the  seine,  necessity 
having  withdrawn  the  operations  into  deeper  waters. 
The  greed  of  trade  outruns  all  sober  precautions.  And  it 
is  to  be  feared  that  the  time  is  rapidly  approaching  when 
the  inhabitants  of  our  lakes  and  rivers,  like  the  wild  ani- 
mals which  were  once  so  abundant  and  are  now  so  few, 
will  be  in  like  manner  exterminated,  and  this  great  indus- 
try of  Michigan  will  cease  to  be  remunerative. 


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'  He  therefore  makes  all  birds  of  every  sort 
Free  of  his  farm,  with  promise  to  respect 
Their  several  kinds  alike,  and  equally  protect." 



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Springwells, ,  1850. 

DEAR  TOM  : — You  ask  me  for  some  account  of  the 
feathered  inhabiters  of  my  neighborhood.  As  the 
meagre  notes  you  received  from  me  a  long  time  ago 
about  the  fishes  seem  to  have  pleased  you,  I  willingly 
comply,  promising  only  that  you  must  not  expect  from 
me  the  language  of  a  naturalist. 

One  of  our  earliest  looked-for  indications  of  the  return 
of  spring  is  the  flight  of  aquatic  birds.  Our  position  on 
the  great  chain  of  lakes  gives  unusual  facilities  for  observ- 
ing these  migrations. 

The  breaking  up  of  the  ice  does  not  always  indicate 
the  final  departure  of  winter,  for  it  often  happens  many 
times  during  that  season  that  our  river  is  entirely  free 
from  ice,  and  so  also  in  great  part  the  lakes.  But  the 
migrations  of  water  fowl  to  points  above,  are  a  certain 
forerunner  of  the  final  dissolution  of  the  icy  bands. 
"  One  swallow  does  not  make  a  summer,**  nor  is  it  certain 
that  the  warm  breezes  of  spring  will  surely  follow  the 
first  flocks  of  wild  ducks.  But  as  their  course  is  north- 
ward, and  their  object  the  breeding  grounds,  the  sway  of 
winter  must  be  broken  to  enable  them  to  accomplish 
what  they  are  in  search  of.  The  commencement  of  their 
flights  usually  is  early  in  March,  but  this  depends  upon 
the  character  of  the  season. 

Wild  geese  are  less  numerous  than  the  ducks.  They 
number  about  twenty  in  a  flock,  and  always  fly  with  mili- 



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tary  precision.  They  range  themselves  along  two  sides 
of  a  triangle,  so  as  to  constitute  a  wedge,  and  cleave  the 
air  with  greater  facility.  A  general  or  leader  always  pre- 
cedes, and  they  obey  the  democratic  doctrine  of  rotation 
in  office,  the  rear  being  allowed  at  intervals  to  overtake 
the  van  and  change  with  it. 

Ducks  are  not  of  so  orderly  a  disposition,  but  migrate 
in  more  straggling  bodies.  They  fly  with  necks  stretched 
out  in  a  straight  line  with  the  body,  and  feet  drawn  up, 
so  as  to  offer  least  resistance  to  the  air ;  and  it  is  astonish- 
ing how  rapidly  they  cut  their  liquid  way,  and  how  long 
sustained  is  their  flight. 

Swans  are  less  often  seen,  but  I  find  mention  in  my 
note-books  of  their  appearance  March  31,  1836,  and  in 
other  years.  Capt.  Luther  Harvey,  of  Monroe,  tells  me 
they  were  formerly  quite  numerous  in  the  bays  of  the 
lakes.  1  do  not  think  that  either  swans  or  geese  now 
alight  in  our  river.  Ducks  frequent  the  bays  and  inden. 
tures  of  the  stream  in  great  numbers,  even  in  the  vicinity 
of  settlements,  but  where  they  are  a  good  musket-shot 
from  shore,  though  out  of  reach  of  the  current.  Here 
they  swim  about  and  dive  at  a  generally  safe  distance 
from  sportsmen,  who  watch  for  such  stragglers  as  are 
tempted  by  the  facilities  for  feeding  to  approach  nearer. 
The  sportsman  often  hides  successfully  behind  some  ob- 
ject on  the  shore,  where,  protected  from  observation,  he 
is  enabled  to  make  game  of  many  unwary  ones.  Among 
these  birds  are  some  teals.  These  are  so  watchful  and 
lively  as  to  dive  at  the  flash,  and  thus  escape  even  the 
well-aimed  ball. 

One  of  my  sporting  neighbors  practises  a  mode  of  de- 
ception which  is  new  to  me.  In  the  early  spring,  when 
ice  is  floating  down  in  large,  irregular  masses  from   the 


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lakes  above,  dotting  the  whole  surface  of  the  water,  he 
converts  his  canoe  into  a  mimic  cake  of  ice  by  stretching 
a  sheet  over  the  front.  Ensconced  behind  this,  he  floats 
down  along  with  the  moving  masses,  and  is  often  enabled 
to  get  into  the  very  midst  of  a  flock  before  they  have 
warning  of  the  trick. 

During  a  cold  winter  many  years  ago,  the  French  and 
half-breeds  of  Presque  Isle  found  geese  so  frozen  to  the 
ice  that  they  caught  them  in  great  numbers.  Thirty  or 
forty  years  ago,  I  am  told,  ducks  were  so  numerous  in 
Maumee  Bay,  and  so  fat  on  the  wild  rice,  that  they  were 
speared  by  thousands. 

Capt.  Luther  Harvey  relates  that  in  the  early  days, 
soon  after  the  war  of  1812,  swans  and  brants  occasionally 
visited  the  marshes  at  the  west  end  of  Lake  Erie.  One 
day  a  pair  of  brants  came  to  his  farm  and  settled  down 
among  his  geese,  where  they  remained  for  two  weeks,  and 
until  they  were  shot  by  a  boy.  They  became  so  tame 
that  he  could  approach  them  within  twenty  feet.  They 
partook  of  the  corn  distributed  to  the  other  fowls,  eyeing 
him  suspiciously  and  keeping  a  little  off,  but  not  flying 
away.  They  were  beautiful  birds,  slenderer  than  the 
geese,  white,  with  black  on  ends  of  tail  and  wings,  and  a 
black  spot  on  the  shoulder.  From  the  description  I  con- 
clude that  they  were  the  white  brant,  or  snow-goose 
{Anser  hyperboreus),  a  rarer  bird  than  the  common  brant 
(which  is  gray),  and  whose  breeding-grounds  are  well  up 
to  the  Arctic  seas. 

Of  the  large  family  of  Natatores  the  wide,  encircling 
waters  of  our  peninsula  furnish  a  greater  number  of  spe- 
cies than  any  other  portion  of  our  continent.  Specimens 
of  most  of  them  are  in  the  State  collection  at  the  Uni- 


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versity  of  Michigan,  deposited  by  the  zoologists  of  the 
Natural  History  Survey,  under  Dr.  Houghton. 

Among  them  is  the  celebrated  canvas-back  duck,  so 
much  sought  by  epicures,  and  fully  equal  to  those  which 
feed  upon  the  wild  celery  of  the  Chesapeake.  Detroit 
markets  are  well  stocked  with  water  fowl  in  great  variety 
during  the  season.  They  get  very  fat  in  the  fall  on  the 
wild  rice  that  abounds  hereabouts,  but  their  numbers  are 
rapidly  diminishing. 

How  different  the  life  of  these  wild  fowl  from  that  of 
the  domesticated  kinds.  The  latter  seldom  range  far 
from  the  hand  that  feeds  them,  and  seek  the  protection 
of  man.  They  have  become  essentially  a  land  bird,  living 
as  much  on  shore  as  on  the  water,  even  when  they  have 
free  access  to  pond  or  river.  Wild  ducks,  on  the  con- 
trary, with  few  exceptions,  do  not  visit  the  land  except 
for  incubation,  feeding  and  sleeping  on  the  wave.  The 
domestic  bird  will  not  fly  many  rods  without  seeking 
rest ;  the  wild  makes  continuous  journeys  of  many  hun- 
dred miles.  Yet  tame  ducks  are  sometimes  enticed  to  join 
the  flocks  of  their  wild  brethren.  In  fact,  this  happened 
with  me  so  frequently  some  years  ago,  that  I  was  forced 
to  abandon  the  attempt  to  keep  ducks  in  my  pond.  The 
near  and  open  connection  with  the  river,  and  the  rice 
and  other  food  with  which  it  abounded,  tempted  the  wild 
birds  to  resort  thither,  and  the  acquaintance  which  they 
formed  with  my  domestic  species  proved  too  strong  for 
the  hitherto  good  habits  of  the  latter.  Having  tasted 
the  sweets  of  the  wild  liberty  of  their  ancestors,  they  de- 
serted me,  never  to  return. 

Among  the  winged  frequenters  of  our  river,  the  gull 
lives  even  more  exclusively  upon  this  element,  alighting 
always  in  the  water,  as  do  many  of  the  ocean  birds.     In- 


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deed,  the  sea-gull  is  not  an  uncommon  visitor  of  its  lake 
cousins,  among  whom  its  larger  size  and  brilliant  white 
plumage  render  it  conspicuous.  I  am  not  aware  of  any 
land  resort  the  gulls  have  in  these  parts,  but  on  Lake 
Superior  and  Thunder  Bay  of  Lake  Huron  I  have  seen 
isolated  rocks — their  breeding-places — covered  with  them 
in  countless  numbers,  and   the  young  are  easily  caught. 

The  great  Northern  loon  was  formerly  a  frequenter  of 
our  river,  but  is  now  seldom  seen  here.  It  is  still  common 
in  the  small  lakes  and  rivers  distant  from  settlements, 
where  I  have  often  heard  his  cry  in  the  coot  of  even- 
ing. What  a  weird,  wild,  lonely  cry  it  is !  It  may  be 
near  or  far  off,  you  cannot  tell  which.  But  the  bird  is 
very  wild  and  difficult  of  approach. 

Of  other  birds  that  move  in  flocks  during  the  spring 
season,  we  have  our  share  of  those  two  distinguished 
game  birds,  pigeons  and  quails.  The  former  never  ap- 
pear in  this  locality  in  such  prodigious  numbers  as  in 
territories  further  west,  but  they  come  in  little  squads 
numerous  enough  to  afford  excellent  sport,  and  the  mar- 
kets are  amply  supplied  during  their  short  stay. 

Quails  abide  with  us  during  nearly  the  whole  year,  and 
visit  familiarly  our  fields  and  homesteads.  They  are  so 
tame  as  to  allow  man  to  approach  within  a  very  few  feet, 
and  it  is  an  amusement  to  listen  to  their  answer  to  calls 
made  in  imitation  of  their  peculiar  whistle.  Their  song 
consists  of  two  or  three  clear  whistling  notes  in  rapid  suc- 
cession, the  last  a  little  prolonged  and  on  a  higher  key. 
One  comes  suddenly  upon  a  bevy  of  quails  in  a  morning 
walk  over  the  fields  or  along  the  roads,  when  they  will 
start  up,  almost  from  under  your  feet,  with  a  sharp  whirr 
of  the  wings  'and  scuttle  away  in  a  low  flight  to  a  little 
further  distance,  perhaps  to  a  neighboring  fence,  whence 


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they  can  watch  and  form  an  opinion  of  the  intruder. 
Pretty  things  they  are,  round,  plump,  and  very  tooth- 
some when  made  acquainted  with  griddle  and  toast. 
Detroit  journals  of  May,  1839,  mention  the  phenomenon 
of  a  sudden,  uncommon  abundance  of  these  birds  in  this 
neighborhood.  So  great  were  the  numbers,  and  so  fear- 
less were  they  of  man,  that  many  were  knocked  down  in 
the  streets  with  clubs  and  canes. 

Yet  though  such  close  attendants  of  field  and  home, 
quails  are  not  easily  tamed,  and  when  caged  retain  to 
the  last  much  of  their  native  wildness  and  impatience  of 
restraint.  Even  when  hatched  under  a  hen  it  has  been 
found  impossible  to  domesticate  them. 

Of  all  the  birds  that  visit  us  in  flocks  we  love  least  to 
see  the  blackbirds, — those  arrant  thieves,  that  steal  our 
corn  and  oats  so  pertinaciously.  The  river  marshes 
afford  such  congenial  habitats  for  these  birds  that  their 
numbers  scarcely  diminish,  notwithstanding  the  havoc 
made  among  them  by  the  guns  of  boys  and  outraged 

They  congregate  by  thousands  in  these  river  borders 
and  coves,  where  they  find  a  favorite  food  in  the  wild 
rice  {Zizania  aquaticd).  The  cove  or  pond  near  my  farm- 
house, covering  an  area  of  some  tWo  or  three  acres,  is 
nearly  every  season  filled  with  this  plant,  and  is  often 
black  with  the  birds.  On  firing,  or  throwing  a  stone  into 
their  ranks,  they  rise  in  dense  flocks,  with  a  loud  rushing 
sound,  fly  a  short  distance,  wheel  about,  and  again  settle 
to  their  repast ;  or  they  collect  in  dense,  black  masses  in 
a  neighboring  tree.  Here  they  hold  council  over  their 
misdeeds,  or  rather,  it  is  probable,  over  the  unauthor- 
ized insult  to  which,  in  their  opinion,  they  have  been  sub- 
jected.    The  chatter  is  loud  and  incessant. 


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Woe  betide  our  corn  and.  grain  fields,  when  sufficiently 
advanced  to  tempt  these  voracious  marauders !  Scare- 
crows are  of  temporary  avail,  but  suspicion  soon  turns  to 
contempt.  Then  shot-guns  again  give  temporary  relief, 
which  lasts  no  longer  than  one  can  afford  to  hold  patient 

As  they  are  not  game  birds,  sportsmen  do  not  thin 
their  ranks  to  supply  the  luxuries  of  the  table.  Yet  they 
are  eaten,  and  I  can  testify  from  experience  that  "  four- 
and-twenty  blackbirds  baked  in  a  pie  **  are  no  mean 
"dish  to  set  before  a  king.**  At  any  rate,  a  sovereign 
Frenchman  does  not  despise  it.  They  are  also  "  a  dainty 
dish  **  to  another  epicurean  animal,  the  omnivorous  hog. 
Often  have  my  hogs  enjoyed  a  rare  treat,  as  I  rambled, 
gun  in  hand,  about  my  orchard  bordering  the  pond,  the 
hogs  following  and  devouring  the  birds  which  I  brought 
to  the  ground. 

The  blackbirds  come  early,  and  are  the  last  to  depart, 
the  sexes  taking  their  departure  in  separate  bands. 
There  are  two  species,  the  males  of  one  being  distinguish- 
able by  their  red  wing-covers.  When  congregated  to 
talk  over  the  question  of  departure  they  are  very  loqua- 
cious, the  subject  being  discussed  over  and  over  again, 
with  as  much  noise  and  confusion,  but  in  a  more  friendly 
spirit,  than  attends  many  of  our  deliberative  assem- 

Their  gay,  sociable,  chatty  dispositions  are  qualities  not 
to  be  despised  among  the  boon  companions  of  our  fields 
and  river-side,  and  offer  some  amends  for  the  mischief 
they  do  us.  We  know  too  that,  like  most  of  our  birds, 
they  are  insectivorous,  their  food  consisting  of  grubs, 
caterpillars,  moths  and  beetles,  as  well  as  grain,  and 
we  may  well  believe  that  the  mischief  they  accomplish 


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is  more  than  compensated  by  habits  and  virtues  of  which 
we  take  little  note. 

Wild  turkeys  were  among  the  game  birds  of  our  neigh- 
borhood until  the  extension  of  the  clearings  drove  them 
to  more  distant  retreats.  But  even  yet  they  occasion- 
ally approach  the  settlements.  Recently  a  flock  of  them 
came  into  a  piece  of  my  enclosed  woodland,  a  quarter  of 
a  mile  only  from  the  house.  Here  I  would  gladly  have 
left  them  undisturbed,  but  they  were  discovered  by  pry- 
ing hunters,  shot  at,  and  driven  away.  Guns  are  becom- 
ing the  terror  and  nuisance  of  our  neighborhood. 

The  wild  turkey  is  considered  one  of  the  wildest  of 
forest  game,  being  much  more  difficult  to  get  a  shot  at 
than  a  deer.  Yet  I  not  unfrequently  flush  them  in  my 
woodland  rides.  On  one  such  occasion  I  came  suddenly 
upon  a  hen  turkey  with  a  brood  of  young.  The  old  bird 
flew  upon  a  fallen  tree,  bristling  its  feathers  at  me  in 
great  rage,  while  the  chicks  dispersed  and  sought  the 
cover  of  the  nearest  leaves  and  underwood.  It  was  her 
mode  of  distracting  my  attention  from  her  young. 
Springing  at  once  from  my  horse,  I  without  difficulty 
caught  two  of  the  little  ones,  carried  them  away  in  my 
pocket,  and  made  an  acceptable  present  of  tfiem  to  one 
of  my  young  friends. 

A  gentleman  living  in  one  of  the  interior  counties  of  the 
State,  but  little  settled,  vouches  to  me  for  the  following 
fact,  as  showing  how  readily  the  wild  bird  may  become 
a  subject  of  domestication.  A  neighbor  woman  kept 
domestic  fowls,  and  throwing  corn  to  them  daily,  grad- 
ually decoyed  a  wild  turkey  into  her  yard.  Associating 
with  the  domestic  brood,  and  finding  what  an  easy  life 
they  led,  he  became  at  length  so  tame  that  she  actually 
caught  and  took  possession  of  him.     Whether  he  con- 


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tinued  to  live  like  a  prince,  or  went  to  her  pot,  I  did  not 
learn,  or  have  forgotten. 

Hawks  and  owls  are  among  the  birds  of  prey  that 
make  frequent  visits  to  my  poultry  yard.  The  latter  are 
seldom  seen,  as  they  avoid  the  light  of  day.  The  former 
are  very  bold  in  their  approaches,  and  will  allow  a  man 
to  come  within  a  few  feet,  if  he  have  no  gun.  They  are 
quick  to  learn  the  meaning  of  this  subtle  weapon.  They 
are  often  conspicuous  objects,  as  perched  upon  a  tree  in 
the  fields,  or  upon  a  post  of  the  fence,  they  auda- 
ciously survey  the  neighborhood,  and  calculate  the 
chances  of  an  attempt  at  robbery.  Though  these  fellows 
have  little  to  recommend  them,  in  j)ublic  estimation, 
except  their  fearlessness,  I  would  willingly  allow  free 
license  to  enjoy  their  observations,  and  follow  unmolested 
the  life  that  nature  has  taught,  but  that  some  unusually 
bold  and  successful  raid  raises  my  resentment,  followed 
by  retaliation.  I  once  shot  one  that  had  been  thus 
depredating,  breaking  his  wing,  so  that  he  could  not  fly. 
On  my  coming  up  he  made  no  attempt  at  escape,  and  as 
I  held  him  up  by  the  wings,  his  large  open  beak,  black, 
piercing  eyes,  and  strong  hooked  claws  gave  him  a  very 
formidable  appearance.  There  was  a  contempt  of  danger 
and  a  valor  in  the  stem,  restless  eye,  which  followed  my 
motions,  that  displayed  the  indomitable  spirit  of  an 
Indian  warrior,  who  may  aptly  be  likened  to  a  bird  of 
prey ;  untamable  as  the  wild  eagle  of  the  mountain,  and 
scorning  the  hand  of  mercy.  I  hung  him  up,  in  terror  to 
the  winged  robbers  of  my  cornfield. 

Did  I  not,  thoughtlessly,  by  this  very  act — making 
even  of  his  dead  body  a  useful  friend — acknowledge  this 
creature's  claim  to  protection  ?  How  many  of  these 
lesser  thieves  may  he  not  have  captured.     How  many 


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mice  and  other  cunning  depredators  may  he  not  have 
destroyed,  as  his  common  and  daily  food,  for  every 
chicken  which  he  occasionally  regaled  upon  ?  Nature  is 
full  of  compensations,  and  did  man  better  heed  her 
lessons,  he  would  find  that  many  a  creature  he  ruthlessly 
seeks  to  exterminate  is  one  of  his  chiefest  benefactors. 

Quite  a  variety  of  birds  make  their  abode  with  us 
throughout  the  winter ;  so  that  our  fields  and  woods  are 
far  from  cheerless,  from  the  absence  of  animated  life, 
during  that  cold  season. 

The  blue  jay  is  a  very  constant  attendant  throughout 
the  year,  never  leaving  us  for  milder  climes.  But  he  is 
by  no  means  so  familiar  as  the  robin,  his  actions  showing 
rather  a  contempt  for  man,  as  an  order  of  animals  be- 
neath his  notice.  Nevertheless  when  snow  covers  the 
earth,  and  food  is  difficult  to  find,  he  will  approach 
nearer  the  mansion,  searching  for  such  crumbs  as  may  be 
thrown  out.  But  he  generally  keeps  aloof,  and  is  more 
attracted  by  the  grassy  spots,  bare-  of  snow,  about  the 
roots  of  trees.  A  gay  and  handsome  bird  he  is,  with  his 
soldier-like,  clean,  blue-and-white  uniform  and  feathery 
crest ;  but  his  shrill  voice  has  not  even  the  music  of  the 
fife  in  it. 

Woodpeckers  remain  with  us  long  in  the  autumn,  and 
several  kinds  throughout  the  winter. 

Flocks  of  snow-birds — buntings — are  visitants,  but  only 
occasional,  through  the  winter,  and  usually  as  attend- 
ants upon  a  snow-storm.  They  are  very  sprightly  and 
sociable,  and  of  course  are  very  cheering  companions  for 
sharp  atmospheres  and  wintry  blasts.  They  are  the  only 
non-resident  birds  that  visit  us  only  in  the  winter.  Com- 
ing when  other  guests  have  deserted,  they  are  like  the 


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memories  of  sunny  days,   that  cheer  the   heart  in  the 
winter  of  life. 

Robins  have  been  reported  as  seen  in  my  woods  in  the 
middle  of  December.  There  is  a  vulgar  belief  that  dur- 
ing mild  days  they  come  out  of  the  reeds  and  marshes, 
where  they  have  winter  habitats.  It  is  certain  that  they 
put  in  an  appearance  here  early  in  March  but  so  do 
the  bluebirds,  which  are  well-known  birds  of  passage. 
There  can  be  little  doubt  that  a  few  individual  robins  do 
occasionally  remain  all  winter  in  our  neighborhood, 
sheltering  themselves  in  the  dense  woods  and  swales. 
Occasionally  they  leave  their  retreats  so  early  in  the 
spring,  deceived  by  a  passing  mildness,  that  they  are 
frozen  to  death  by  a  sudden  wintry  turn. 

Our  spring  is  made  gay  with  the  beautiful  plumage  of 
many  birds,  as  well  as  by  their  songs.  Those  early  and 
familiar  favorites,  the  blue  and  yellow  birds,  and  the 
orioles,  never  fail  to  be  with  us  at  this  hopeful  season,  in 
great  numbers ;  cheering  us  with  their  notes  of  gladness, 
and,  like  winged  flowers,  anticipating  the  blossoms  that 
shall  soon  clothe  the  garden  and  orchard  with  tints  rival- 
ling their  own. 

The  bluebird  is  one  of  the  earliest  harbingers  of 
spring,  arriving  early  in  March  and  remaining  until  No- 
vember. His  services,  too,  are  of  a  very  practical  kind, 
for  he. devours  multitudes  of  noxious  insects,  and  nevei;, 
that  I  can  discover,  plunders  the  fruit. 

The  still  more  brilliant  scarlet  tanager  is  a  more  shy 
and  unfrequent  visitor,  and  arrives  later  from  his  con- 
genial South.  He  delights,  here  at  the  North,  to  veil 
his  beauties  in  the  deeper  woods.  But  his  first  compli- 
ments are  paid  nevertheless  to  the  homestead ;  where  he 
flashes  through  the  shrubbery  like  a  glancing  flame.     He 

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soon  retires  to  the  thick  woods,  to  bring  up  his  family, 
and  very  early  takes  his  departure.  He  belongs  to  a 
Brazilian  family,  and  perhaps  has  not  yet  acquainted 
himself  sufficiently  with  our  harsh  Northern  tongue  to 
become  familiar. 

Another  handsome  bird  is  very  common  here,  and  he 
is  among  the  most  persistent  of  the  winged  thieves  that 
prey  upon  our  fruit.  This  is  the  cedar-bird,  known  also 
as  the  cherry-bird,  from  his  remarkable  fondness  for 
cherries,  which  he  devours  in  great  quantities.  I  am 
willing  to  believe  that  even  he  repays  the  injury  he  does 
us,  and  possibly  earns  his  guerdon  by  clearing  the  trees 
of  canker-worms  and  insects  that  hide  beneath  the  bark. 
His  dress  is  very  neat,  and  the  French  call  him  by  the 
name  of  R^collet,  from  the  color  of  his  crest,  which  re- 
sembles the  hood  of  that  religious  order,  once  so  numer- 
ous in  the  New  World. 

I  have  recently  had  the  opportunity  of  a  very  interest- 
ing subject  of  study, — the  habits  of  wild  birds  domesti- 
cated. An  ingenious  brother  has  constructed  a  mam- 
moth cage,  which  he  has  filled  with  **many  birds  of 
various  kinds.**  It  is  wonderful  to  see  how  well  they 
agree,  only  now  and  then  one  being  found  that  is  quar- 
relsome or  of  an  ugly  disposition.  Of  this  sort  was  a 
blackbird,  who  rapaciously  snatched  food  from  the  other 
tenants,  always  greedy  and  careless  of  the  rights  and 
comforts  of  others.  So  neither  in  his  wild  nor  domestic 
state  does  he  make  himself  a  favorite.  He  had  a  way  of 
amusing  himself  that  was  in  keeping  with  his  character, — 
that  of  plucking  the  feathers  off  the  breasts  of  his  com- 
panions. In  this  manner  he  completely  stripped  a  large 
chicken  that  had  been  confined  to  the  cage  for  a  few 


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A  little  Java  sparrow  affords  much  amusement,  by  a 
particular  friendship  he  has  formed  with  the  robins. 
These  birds  are  several  times  larger  than  he,  but  stand 
somewhat  in  awe  of  him.  It  is  his  custom  to  shelter 
himself  from  the  cold  at  night  by  making  use  of  the 
warmth  of  their  bodies.  This  use  is,  in  fact,  somewhat 
compulsory,  and  is  obtained  by  stratagem.  He  does  it  by 
hugging  closely  up  to  one  of  the  robins ;  the  pressure 
forcing  the  bird  to  raise  and  extend  a  leg,  in  order  to  pre- 
serve his  balance.  The  sparrow  seizes  this  chance  to 
slip  in  between  the  legs,  and  thus  secures  a  warm  downy 
covering  for  his  bed.  If  unsuccessful  in  this  expedient, 
he  contrives  by  the  use  of  his  wings  to  get  into  his  favor- 
ite position;  for  he  is  a  determined  little  fellow,  and 
does  not  readily  abandon  his  undertakings.  This  spar- 
row is  a  very  grave-looking  bird,  notwithstanding  his 
facetious  tricks.  He  has  brilliant  stripes  of  white  under 
each  ear,  which  look  like  shirt-collars,  and  a  very  large 
prominent  bill,  like  the  red  Roman  nose  of  a  free  liver. 
We  name  him  the  **  Bachelor." 

Most  of  the  birds  in  this  cage  have  been  brought  up 
together  from  the  callow  stage,  and  have  become  very 
familiar  with  each  other.  A  male  oriole  and  a  female 
canary,  being  mateless,  entered  into  a  '*  civil  contract," 
and  proceeded  very  diligently  to  build  a  nest.  But  the 
robins  did  not  approve  the  match,  and  tore  the  nest  to 
pieces  as  fast  as  it  was  constructed,  scattering  the  ma- 
terials about  the  cage. 

How  strong  the  breeding  instinct  is  was  shown  on  an- 
other occasion,  among  the  canaries.  A  pair  had  con- 
structed a  nest  in  their  breeding  cage,  but  from  some 
cause  failed  to  raise  a  brood.  A  friend  having  acci- 
dentally found  a  nest  of  yellow  birds  of  unfledged  young. 


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took  two  of  them  and  dropped  them  into  the  empty  nest. 
They  were  first  espied  by  the  male  canary,  who,  after 
eyeing  them  awhile  curiously,  gave  place  to  the  female. 
She,  with  a  motherly  tenderness,  at  once  accepted  the  gift, 
and  thenceforth  the  happy  pair  adopted  the  little  found- 
lings, and  reared  them  to  maturity,  with  many  demon- 
strations of  pleasure  and  affection. 

Most  of  the  birds  are  made  very  tame  by  handling. 
This  is  particularly  the  case  with  the  thrushes ;  but  they 
lose  this  tameness  to  man  when  kept  confined  to  the 
cage.  They  also  lose  the  power  or  inclination  to  sing 
when  together.  An  indigo  bird,  a  famous  songster  when 
in  his  solitary  cage,  so  lost  his  vocal  power,  after  a 
few  weeks*  intercourse  with  the  birds,  that  it  became 
necessary,  after  separating  him,  to  set  before  him  the  ex- 
ample of  the  best  vocalist  among  the  canaries,  before  he 
recovered  his  lost  art. 

Some  time  ago  a  large  green  parrot  was  added  to  our 
feathered  family.  He  is  a  good  talker,  and  amuses  us 
with  some  extraordinary  exhibitions  of  the  faculty  of 
speech  and  of  mimicry.  Like  other  individuals  of  this 
loquacious  species,  he  pronounces  quite  plainly  such 
familiar  words  and  sentences  as  "  Good-by,'*  **  Polly  wants 
a  cracker,**  etc.  But  what  is  more  astonishing  is  the 
ease  with  which,  like  a  child,  he  catches  and  imitates 
sounds  heard  for  the  first  time.  He  soon  learned  to  re- 
peat  the  names  of  every  member  of  the  family,  including 
the  servants.  These  he  often  rouses  from  the  kitchen  by 
loudly  calling  their  names.  Sometimes  he  varies  his 
tones,  from  those  of  an  old  person  to  those  of  a  child, 
with  marvellous  accuracy. 

He  is  fond  of  holding  with  himself  long  imaginary 
conversations.     In  these  he  will  seem  to  ask  questions. 


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to  reply,  and  to  dispute,  deny  and  recriminate  ;  now 
in  the  gruff  voice  of  a  man,  and  now  in  the  finer  tones 
of  a  woman,  getting  quite  warm  in  his  earnestness. 

During  this  harangue  few  words  may  be  distinctly 
uttered,  but  the  whole  has  the  character  of  a  conversa- 
tion indistinctly  heard,  or  which  is  listened  to  without 
taking  note  of  the  language  used.  In  what  fish-market 
this  Billingsgate  was  learned  we  do  not  know.  The 
persons  from  whom  the  bird  was  purchased  had  emi- 
grated, and  from  the  frequent  use  of  the  word  '*  Califor- 
nia," by  the  bird,  it  is  probable  they  had  gon«  to  that 
country,  and  possibly  the  journey  had  been  preceded  by 
long,  and  perhaps  angry,  discussions  on  the  subject. 

A  gentleman  resident  in  the  city  is  owner  of  a  parrot, 
of  the  African  gray  species,  which  is  quite  remarkable  for 
his  intelligent  use  of  language.  When  his  master  comes 
home  the  bird  recognizes  his  step,  and  calls  out  to  him, 
"  How  do  you  do,  old  boy?"  Being  answered,  "  Pretty 
well,"  his  response  is,  "  All  right."  On  his  master's  leav- 
ing the  house  he  salutes  him  with,  "  Good-by,  old  boy,— 
come  and  kiss  me  good-by.**  This  bird  also  calls  by 
name  every  member  of  the  family. 

The  speech  of  the  parrot  is  ventriloquial.  There  ap- 
pears to  be  no  motion  of  the  beak  or  tongue,  while  a  very 
perspicuous  motion  is  observable  in  the  throat.  Indeed, 
the  labial  sounds  are  as  distinctly  articulated  as  any  other, 
which  would  be  a  phenomenon  indeed,  if  performed  by  a 
bird's  beak.  The  curious  orifice  at  the  root  of  the  latter 
may  have  something  to  do  with  this  faculty,  but  I  am 

not  learned  on  the  subject. 

Truly  Yours. 


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" nor  these  alone,  whose  notes 

Nice  fingered  art  must  emulate  in  vain, 

But  cawing  rooks,  and  kites  that  swim  sublime, 

In  still  repeated  circles,  screaming  loud, 

The  jay,  the  pie,  and  e'en  the  boding  owl. 

That  hails  the  rising  moon,  have  charms  for  me." 



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I'  WOULD  supplement  the  foregoing  account  of  my 
earlier  experiences  by  a  few  more  items,  and  a  little 
further  chat  about  the  birds  of  my  neighborhood. 

Mr.  J.  S.  Tibbits,  in  a  paper  read  before  our  Wayne 
County  Pioneer  Society,  in  1874,  alluding  to  the  first  set- 
tlement of  the  country,  mentions  among  "  the  birds 
common  in  those  early  days,"  the  eagle,  turkey-buzzard, 
raven,  hawk,  owl,  crow,  turkey,  partridge,  duck,  and 
wild  goose.  He  says,  **  The  turkey-buzzard,  which  is  sel- 
dom or  never  seen  now,  was  common  then.  The  crow 
did  not  make  its  appearance  till  a  number  of  years  after 
the  first  settlements  were  made.** 

I  have  several  times,  in  years  gone,  seen  the  bald  eagle, 
perched  upon  some  tree  on  the  banks,  or  sailing  over 
the  Lake  Ste.  Claire.  The  buzzard  must  have  betaken 
himself  to  other  latitudes  for  some  good  reason,  known 
best  to  himself,  before  my  arrival  in  1835.  With  the 
crow  {Corvus  Aniericanus)  I  made  better  acquaintance. 
This  bird,  cousin-gerrnan  to  the  blackbirds  mentioned  in 
the  foregoing  letter,  is  of  much  larger  size,  but  of  like 
social  disposition.  On  my  first  coming  to  this  county  I 
was  informed  that  the  large,  dusky  birds  seen  occasionally 
high  in  air  were  ravens,  and  that  the  true  crow  was 
not  found  here.  Yet  I  was  aware  at  that  time,  that 
great  precautions  were  used  by  farmers  in  the  State  of 
New  York  to  protect  their  corn  from  the  depredations 
of  crows.     The  Genesee  Farmer  of  1867  says,  "  It  is  little 



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more  than  twenty  years  since  the  first  crow  crossed  the 
Genesee  River,  westerly."  The  first  appearance  of  crows 
in  this  neighborhood,  that  I  have  noted,  was  in  the 
autumn  of  1858.  So  it  must  have  taken  about  a  decade 
for  their  journey  westward,  from  the  Niagara  to  the  De- 
troit, supposing  they  came  from  that  quarter. 

An  entry  in  my  journal  of  November  12,  1858,  states, 
"  For  a  week  past,  large  quantities  of  crows  have  made 
their  appearance,  coming  over  the  river,  from  Canada, 
each  morning,  and  returning  about  sun&et.  They  are  in 
thousands,  and  wing  their  way  in  a  narrow  track  that 
passes  nearly  over  my  homestead.  They  fly  at  great 
height  generally,  but  sometimes  descend  within  rifle  dis- 
tance. They  croak  but  little,  and  seem  to  be  on  business. 
Last  evening  the  number  was  unusually  large,  and  I  ob- 
served that  their  point  of  departure  seemed  to  be  the  oak 
grove  in  the  rear  of  and  not  far  from  my  house."  I  must 
here  state  that  my  residence  is  no  longer  upon  the  river, 
but  about  half  a  mile  back,  and  nearer  the  woods. 

The  evening  was  clear  and  moonlit,  and  I  walked 
out  into  the  grove,  about  nine  o'clock,  guided  by  the 
noise.  There  I  found  that  several  thousand  birds  had 
taken  roost  in  the  tallest  trees.  Something  of  importance 
was  on  their  minds,  for  they  kept  up  an  incessant  chatter, 
not  their  usual  formal  caw,  A  portion  would  now  and 
then  rise  on  the  wing,  in  a  flock,  wheel  around,  and  alight 
on  a  neighboring  tree,  all  within  a  small  circle.  It  was  like 
the  swarming  of  bees.  Their  notes  were  more  varied  than 
I  had  ever  before  heard.  Besides  the  common  caw  would 
be  an  occasional  chuckling  sound,  or  warble,  and  now  and 
then  some  words  resembling  "  get  out  "  ;  whether  this  was 
addressed  to  me  or  to  some  offender  among  their  own 
community,   I   could   not  tell.     At   times  the  mingling 


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voices  made  a  medley  resembling  the  concert  of  frogs. 
They  seemed  to  be  in  '  high  feather  * ;  which  is  probably 
their  term  for  enjoyment.    In  the  morning  all  were  gone. 

Their  diurnal  passage  of  the  river  this  year  continued 
for  several  weeks,  but  the  same  roosting-places  were  not 
always  selected.  I  have  noted  their  re-appearance  in  the 
winters  of  1861  and  1862,  and  of  1864  and  1865.  In  No- 
vember, 1865,  I  again  noticed  their  passage  overhead, 
crossing  into  Canada  at  sunrise,  and  returning  to  our  side 
at  night. 

The  Detroit  Free  Press  of  March  21,  1867,  notices 
the  advent  of  crows  for  the  two  weeks  past,  in  unprece- 
dented numbers,  making  in  clouds  for  some  rendezvous 
on  the  Canada  side,  and  says  a  gentleman  counted  two 
thousand  in  two  hours. 

My  notes  of  March,  1869,  thus  again  alludes  to  the  re- 
turn of  the  crows, — an  event  always  of  peculiar  interest 
to  me  :  "  For  several  days  we  have  noticed  unusual  num- 
bers flying  overhead.  '  Last  evening  about  five  o'clock 
they  began  coming  in  flocks  of  several  thousand,  and 
settled  down  in  the  pine  grove  of  my  neighbor,  where 
they  remained  all  night.  The  pines  were  thickly  planted 
and  were  about  twenty  feet  high.  About  five  o'clock 
the  next  morning  they  were  astir,  and  for  some  fifteen 
minutes  before  their  departure  completed  their  toilettes 
amid  an  incessant  uproar,  and  were  off  for  breakfast. 
This  evening  at  the  same  hour  they  again  commenced 
their  visitation,  coming  from  the  south  and  south-west,  in 
long  straggling  files.  All  came  to  the  pine  grove,  as  be- 
fore, flying  quite  low,  but  after  settling  there  for  about 
a-  half  hour,  changed  their  minds  as  to  their  night's  quar- 
ters, and  the  main  body  rose  and  moved  off  to  the  tall 
trees  on  the  outskirt  of  my  woods.     Here  they  clustered 


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on  the  tops,  in  black  masses.  These  occasionally 
rose,  and  after  sailing  about  settled  again  on  the  trees. 
Deputation  after  deputation  continued  to  arrive,  and 
all  made  for  the  pines,  but  finding  their  associates  gone, 
they  also  steered  their  course  to  join  the  main  body. 
About  six  o'clock  all  had  assembled.  Their  united  de- 
liberations now  resulted  in  a  resolution  to  return  to  the 
pines,  where  they  settled  down,  apparently  for  the  night, 
the  taller  trees  in  my  adjoining  grounds  being  occupied 
by  sentries.  Suddenly  some  roving  mischief-maker  let 
off  a  gun  into  their  ranks.  All  now  rose,  and  with  angry 
clamor  departed  for  the  taller  trees  of  my  woodland. 
Not  one  remained.  Half  an  hour  later  another  gun 
frighted  them  from  this  roost,  and  compelled  a  retreat  to 
a  more  distant  camp.  Here,  as  darkness  fell,  I  made 
them  a  visit.  Several  trees  were  filled  with  them,  in 
black  clusters.  Their  object  seemed  to  be  rather  the 
holding  of  a  council  than  for  a  night's  repose.  Cer- 
tainly their  whole  time  was  occupied  in  talking,  and  the 
clamor  at  times  was  overpowering.  At  length  a  pause 
occurred  in  the  general  debate.  One  or  two  only  contin- 
ued to  hold  forth ;  after  awhile  others  would  break  in 
and  interrupt  the  orators.  Now  the  whole  assembly  felt 
authorized  to  express  their  sentiments,  which  they  did 
not  fail  to  do,  with  the  utmost  vociferation.  The  excite- 
ment would  have  done  credit  to  a  political  caucus. 

On  this  occasion,  as  I  had  observed  on  a  former  one, 
every  few  minutes  a  portion  of  the  assembly  rose, 
wheeled  around  in  a  large  circle,  and  returned  to  their 
places.  While  this  movement  was  taking  place  the 
tumult  ceased,  or  fell  to  an  occasional  caw;  when  all  were 
again  together,  the  chatter  once  more  became  incessant. 
The  noise  occasioned  by  the  mingling  of  so  many  throats 


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bore  little  resemblance  to  the  harsh  croak  with  which 
these  birds  accompany  their  flight  by  day.  It  was  more 
like  the  hum  of  a  multitude  of  human  voices ;  it  was  dif- 
ficult to  resist  the  impression  that  such  voices  were  really 
aiding  the  din.  Several  inferior  animals  also  found  imi- 
tators ;  I  could  distinctly  recognize  the  mew  of  the  cat 
and  the  chirrup  of  the  squirrel. 

My  appearance  created  some  distrust,  which  was  not  to 
be  wondered  at,  after  the  affair  of  the  guns.  When  I 
moved  into  sight  from  behind  a  tree  the  conversation 
ceased.  After  a  little  while  a  few  voices  began  a  kind  of 
inquiring  rfote,  very  plaintive  and  low ;  doubtless  asking 
my  motive,  and  deprecating  hostility.  Frequently  an 
entire  cessation  took  place  in  the  debate — a  silent  delib- 
eration— during  which,  for  one  or  two  minutes,  no  sound 
was  heard,  except  the  flapping  of  wings  in  the  efforts  of 
the  birds  to  keep  their  places  on  the  limbs,  from  which 
broken  pieces  were  continually  dropping.  Though  toler- 
ant of  my  presence,  the  assembly  did  not  seem  disposed 
to  admit  me  to  their  councils.  I  have  no  doubt  that  the 
subjects  discussed  were  of  the  utmost  importance,  and  I 
would  gladly  have  reported  the  speeches  for  the  Free 
Press,  had  they  furnished  me  an  interpreter. 

For  several  succeeding  nights  the  crows,  to  the  great 
delight  of  my  family,  continued  their  visits  to  the  pines, 
or  to  the  taller  trees  in  my  grounds,  but  they  held  no 
more  mass  meetings.  I  hoped  that  these  trees  would 
form  for  them  a  secure  retreat,  and  that  the  frequenters 
might  become  half  domesticated,  like  the  rooks  of  Eng- 
land. But  some  sporting  characters  again  brought  their 
ill-timed  guns  upon  them,  killed  many,  and  drove  the 
rest  away,  and  they  have  gone  to  quarters  unknown. 

What  these  creatures  find  to  subsist  upon,  in  quantity 


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sufficient  for  such  numbers,  is  a  mystery.  They  are  sup- 
posed by  some  to  consume  the  acorns,  of  which  there  is 
great  abundance,  but  I  have  never  observed  them  at  this 
work,  nor  have  I  ever  heard  any  blame  attached  to  the 
crows,  as  depredators  upon  the  corn  and  grain  fields,  in 
this  State.  They  are  naturally  carnivorous,  and  consume 
grubs,  the  larvae  of  beetles  and  insects;  perhaps  also 
mice.  Thus  they  are  of  real  service  to  the  farmer. 
These  sources  of  supply  being  cut  off  in  the  cold  season, 
it  is  said  that  they  resort  to  carrion.  But  how  they  man- 
age to  find  sufficient  of  this,  or  any  other  food,  to  sustain 
life  in  winter  is  unexplained.  A  mile  or  more  back  from 
the  river  are  several  slaughter-houses,  and  in  the  fall 
crows  may  be  seen,  at  almost  all  hours,  in  their  vicinity. 
Garbage  and  the  carcasses  of  animals,  that  are  often  ex- 
posed in  the  fields,  without  the  city,  may  also  attract 
them.  But  why  their  so  regular  transits  of  the  river  I 
have  not  been  able  to  discover. 

On  the  occasion  of  their  visits  to  this  vicinity,  in  the 
winter  of  1864-5,  there  was  an  enclosed  lot  near  my  resi- 
dence, which  had  been  recently  manured  with  garbage 
from  the  slaughter-houses.  The  crows  were  attracted  to 
this  lot,  and  for  many  days  settled  there  in  considerable 
squads.  They  ranged  themselves  about  the  heaps,  as  I 
have  often  seen  turkey-buzzards  do,  apparently  satisfied 
to  be  near  such  food,  but  though  I  watched  them  often, 
I  never  once  saw  any  engaged  in  eating.  Late  in  the 
afternoons  these  settled  upon  the  pines  before  mentioned, 
where  they  kept  noisy  council  until  far  into  the  evening, 
when  all  returned  into  Canada.  Unless  they  live  upon 
smell,  as  the  fairies  do,  they  must  find  their  chief  subsist- 
ence somewhere  in  Her  Majesty's  dominions. 

The  crow  is  one  of  the  few  birds  that  are  attendants 


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upon  civilization,  continuing  about  the  settlements  of 
man  all  the  year.  His  resemblance  to  the  rooks  of  Old 
England,  who  make  their  nests  under  the  protection  of 
lordly  mansions,  and  roam  undisturbed  meadow  and  corn- 
field, gives  to  our  bird  additional  interest.  I  must  how- 
ever tell  the  whole  truth,  and  am  compelled  to  admit  that 
these  black  friends  of  mine  were  detected  by  a  neighbor 
depredating  upon  his  young  chickens.  I  was  incredulous, 
until  convinced  by  the  contents  of  the  stomach.  A  few 
days  afterwards  a  young  crow  fell  into  my  hands,  and  I 
confined  him  in  a  cage  in  my  orchard.  Here  he  was 
visited  by  the  parent  bird,  who  was  actually  seen  carrying 
to  her  captive  child  portions  of  the  body  of  a  chicken. 
After  these  disclosures  I  no  longer  felt  disposed  to  give 
the  crow  such  free  title  as  before.  At  the  same  time  I 
remember  in  their  favor  that  they  destroy  cutworms  and 
many  things  injurious  to  man,  and  are  perhaps,  to  a  cer- 
tain degree,  scavengers.  I  will  not  therefore  withdraw 
my  protection,  because  of  their  occasional  theft  of  things 
that  we  value. 

Finally,  I  love  the  crow  for  the  independence  of  his 
character.  He  keeps  aloof  from  the  servile  throngs  that 
crowd  around  the  habitations  of  men.  Like  the  latter,  he 
has  his  parliaments,  but  he  keeps  his  own  counsel,  and 
cares  nothing  for  those  who  differ  from  him. 

"  He  sees  that  this  great  roundabout, 
The  world,  with  all  its  motley  rout, 
Church,  army,  physic,  law, 
Its  customs  and  its  businesses, 
Is  no  concern  at  all  of  his, 
And  says — ^what  says  he  ? — caw  I "  * 

*  Cowper. 

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I  much  regret  that  wild  turkeys  have  now  been  all 
driven  from  this  region  by  hunters.  It  has  always 
seemed  to  me  that  this  bird  would  be  our  country's  much 
more  appropriate  emblem  than  the  eagle.  It  certainly 
represents  our  land  better,  and  the  national  character 
as  it  should  be.  The  turkey  was  once  common  over  all 
the  United  States,  and  is  peculiar  to  North  America. 
The  eagle  is  found  all  over  the  world,  and  is  peculiar  to 
no  one  country.  It  was  the  national  bird  of  ancient 
Rome,  and  is  now  of  the  almost  equally  extended  empire 
of  Russia,  as  well  as*  of  other  lesser  States.  The  eagle  is 
a  bird  of  prey,  does  no  service  to  man,  nOr  does  it  pos- 
sess any  noble  qualities  that  compensate  for  the  cruelty 
and  rapacity  which  are  its  nature.  It  is  the  inferior  in 
courage  of  many  birds  of  far  less  pretension.  It  is  a  self- 
ish bird,  living  for  himself  and  by  himself  alone.  The 
turkey  loves  society  and  friendship ;  he  is  devoted  to  liis 
clan,  who  consort  together  in  deliberative  assemblies,  and 
act  with  that  common  consent  which  is  the  basis  of  demo- 
cratic government.  The  turkey  lives  only  on  the  fruits 
of  the  earth,  wherein  he  appropriately  symbolizes  the 
agricultural  character  of  our  people.  Even  in  the  white- 
ness and  sweetness  of  its  flesh,  it  is  significant  of  the 
good  things  in  store  for  the  citizens  of  a  mild,  paternal 
government,  that  does  not  thrive  by  the  woes  of  others. 
It  is  a  proud  bird,  too,  as  conscious  of  its  merits,  and  in 
the  lustre  and  beauty  of  its  plumage  yields  the  palm  to 
no  feathered  creature.  Those  who  see  his  form  only 
among  the  stuffed  specimens  of  a  museum  have  but  a 
very  imperfect  idea  of  the  matchless  beauty,  the  blended 
shades  and  hues,  and  the  noble  bearing  of  the  wild  bird 
in  his  prime,  and  in  his  native  haunts. 

It  may  be  objected  that  so  timid  a  creature  does  not 


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represent  the  bold  and  active  element  of  national  char- 
acter. But  why  should  ferocity  be  paramount  to  the 
peaceful  qualities  ?  To  be  bold  in  defence  of  its  rights, 
and  in  its  protecting  care  over  its  offspring,  but  not  ag- 
gressive upon  the  rights  of  others ;  to  be  diligent  in  the 
useful,  and  not  disregardful  of  the  ornamental,  are  qual- 
ities which  are  paramount  in  the  turkey.  They  are 
worthy  of  any  creature,  and  would  befit  the  character  of 
a  just  nation. 

We  have  had  enough  of  '*  spread-eagle  "  boasting  over 
our  country's  greatness  'and  glory.  That  kind  of  vanity 
has  been  humbled,  and  it  would  be  well  if,  with  the 
emblem,  it  was  repudiated  altogether.  Franklin,  phi- 
losopher as  well  as  statesman,  saw  the  inappropriateness 
of  the  eagle  as  the  emblem  of  his  country,  and  proposed 
the  rattlesnake — an  exclusively  American  animal,  and 
who  always  gives  warning  before  he  strikes.  But  a  rep- 
tile has  not  sufficient  dignity  for  so  important  a  purpose. 
The  turkey  equally  is  exclusively  American,  and,  while 
he  combines,  in  the  highest  degree,  the  useful  and  the 
beautiful,  is  free  from  any  of  those  qualities  which  in  a 
people  cast  a  stain  upon  the  national  honor. 

Of  birds  of  America  that  collect  in  large  flocks  none 
exceed  in  marvellous  numbers  the  pigeon.  Most  persons 
have  heard  about  the  immense  roosts  of  this  bird  in  some 
of  the  sparsely  settled  portions  of  the  West,  and  it  has 
been  well  known  for  years  that  they  had  one  of  their 
favorite  roosting-places  in  this  State.  But  the  great 
pigeon-roost  of  1874,  in  Benzie  County,  so  far  transcends 
any  other  of  which  I  ever  read  or  heard,  that  I  cannot 
forbear  transcribing  for  this  chapter  some  graphic  por- 
tions of  a  letter  to  the  New  York    Worlds  by  a  corres- 


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pondent  from  Frankfort,  Michigan,  dated  June  25,  1874. 
He  says : 

**  The  number  of  the  birds  this  spring  has  exceeded 
even  anything  recorded  in  the  traditions  of  hunters  and 
oldest  inhabitants.  The  miraculous  flight  of  quails  that 
fell  by  the  camp  of  the  Israelites,  a  day's  journey  on  this 
side  and  a  day's  journey  on  the  other  side,  and  two 
cubits  high  upon  the  face  of  the  earth,  is  as  nothing  to 
the  *  Betsey  River  nesting.*  Imagine  if  you  can  a  tract 
of  land  about  sixteen  miles  long  and  three  wide,  where 
every  bough  is  occupied  by  a  dozen  nests  and  a  hundred 
birds ;  where  the  air  whirrs  from  dawn  till  dark  with 
ceaseless  wings ;  where  the  flights  that  settle  cover 
square  acres  with  a  living  carpet ;  where  from  250  to  400 
men  have  for  six  weeks  or  more  been  engaged  in  trap- 
ping and  killing  without  cessation,  and  yet  not  made  the 
numbers  appreciably  less;  imagine  50  square  miles  of 
pigeons,  and  that  is  the  scene.  Almost  daily  armies  of 
re-enforcements  fly  northward  from  far-away  Kentucky 
and  Missouri,  the  beat  of  whose  wings  and  whose  count- 
less numbers  obscure  the  sky,  and  emit  a  hollow  roar,  as 
if  a  tornado  or  thunder-storm  were -approaching. 

"  There  are  three  regular  *  flights  *  a  day — two  *  tom 
flights '  and  one  *  hen  flight ! '  At  early  dawn  the  male 
birds  set  out,  flying  to  the  east  and  north  to  seek  a  break- 
fast of  seeds  and  berries,  10,  20,  or  50  miles  away,  and  by 
six  or  half-past  six  the  sky  is  black  with  the  departing 
birds.  They  tower  up  in  great  armies  to  a  considerable 
height,  each  sheet  of  birds — sheet  is  the  word  that  best 
describes  them — wavering  a  moment  like  the  needle  of 
the  compass  when  disturbed,  then  taking  flight  in  the 
appointed  direction,  with  a  unanimity  and  evenness  of 
speed  that  would  make  one  believe  that  every  bird  was 


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animated  by  the  same  impulse  at  the  same  instant.  An 
hour  later  not  a  bird  is  to  be  seen,  but  toward  8  o'clock 
the  rush  of  the  returning  armies  is  heard.  Squadron 
after  squadron  arrives,  cleaving  the  air  with  unwearied 
wing  and  unfailing  sense,  fluttering,  wheeling  and  de- 
scending, each  division  over  its  own  district,  each  bird 
over  the  nest  of  its  faithful  mate.  As  *  tom '  after 
'  tom  *  returns  to  take  his  trick  at  the  domestic  helm, 
*  hen  *  after  *  hen  *  rises  upward,  and  the  armies  of  the 
Amazons  go  out  to  the  East  and  North.  Towards  9 
o'clock  the  scene  is  indescribable.  It  is  a  very  atmos- 
phere of  wings ;  earth  and  forest  have  been  converted  into 
feathers,  and  the  eye  gazes  down  vistas  of  pigeons  to  far 
horizons  of  squab  pies  and  salmis  de  tourtes  sauvages, 

"By  and  by  the  last  female  departs,  and  the  meek 
males  remain  incubating  with  a  faithfulness  and  amenabil- 
ity to  domestic  discipline  that  would  delight  the  sternest 
unfeathered  sister.  In  the  middle  of  the  afternoon  the 
hens  return  and  the  toms  depart  to  make  an  evening  of  it, 
returning  before  or  about  sunset.  The  late  birds,  who 
stay  out  till  dusk,  having  apparently  the  latch-key  to  their 
several  nests,  seem  bothered  and  fly  very  low,  sweeping 
along  the  ground  till  they  get  their  bearings. 

"  Then  begins  such  a  slaughter  as  marked  the  coup  d'etat, 
Poles  and  clubs  are  the  weapons,  and  at  every  sweep  a 
dozen  birds,  brained,  crippled  or  maimed,  tumble  to  the 
earth.  Scarcely  less  simple  and  efficient  is  the  practice  of 
raking  them  down  at  night  with  poles,  from  the  lower 
branches  where  they  roost.  The  foxes  and,  later,  the  hogs 
fatten  on  the  ungathered  hecatombs  that  are  left  dead  or 
to  die  in  the  grass.  T  .  ."  The  writer,  after  detailing 
other  and  the  principal  modes  of  capturing  this  game, 
adds :  "  The  New  York  State  Sportsmen's  Association  has 


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taken  40,000  or  45,000  live  birds  from  Frankfort,  and 
Fisher  &  Sons  as  many  more,  alive  and  dead,  and  as  for 
small  dealers,  it  is  impossible  to  say  how  many  hundreds 
of  barrels  and  coops  they  sent  away  weekly.*' 

Whether  the  lesser  song  birds  favor  this  neighborhood 
in  any  unusual  degree  I  am  unable  to  say,  nor  will  I 
undertake  any  extended  mention  of  these  universal  favor- 
ites of  the  wood,  field  and  door-yard ;  which  would  swell 
my  meagre  notes  into  a  treatise.  Only  let  it  be  under- 
stood, that  the  little  I  do  say  falls  very  far  below  the 
standard  of  their  merit  and  the  admiration  they  excite. 

It  is  certain  that  we  have  occasionally  song  birds  of 
more  Southern  habits.  Possibly  the  extraordinary  heat 
which  sometimes  attends  our  summers,  and  the  increased 
number  of  insects  then  called  forth,  but  more  the  charm 
of  our  Northern  woods  and  waters,  are  the  prevailing  in- 
ducements to  these  extended  journeys. 

Among  these  Southern  guests  is  the  well-known  mock- 
ing-bird {Orpheus  polyglottus),  which  is  seen,  though  but 
rarely,  in  this  State.  The  powers  of  our  Northern,  or 
"  French  mocking-bird,**  more  commonly  known  as  the 
brown  thrush  or  thrasher,  and  ferruginous  thrush  {Orpheus 
rufus),  certainly  compare  most  favorably  with  those  of  his 
Southern  cousin,  and  are  not  appreciated  to  the  extent,  it 
seems  to  me,  which  they  deserve.  There  is  among  nat- 
uralists some  difference  of  opinion,  whether  this  bird  is  an 
imitator,  or  his  song  native  and  only  varied.  The  latter 
is  the  generally  received  conclusion.  It  may  seem  strange 
there  should  be  any  difficulty  in  determining  the  fact. 
The  natural  song  of  this  thrush  is- so  near  an  approach  to 
the  cries  of  many  animals,  and  even  the  voice  of  man, 
and  so  many  changes  are  rung  by  different  individuals 
or  by  the  same  at  different  times,  that  it  is  not  easy  to 


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distinguish  between  what  is  native  and  what  is  acquired. 
I  believe  that  he  is  a  bom  mimic,  as  well  as  somewhat  of 
a  joker. 

His  notes  are  exceedingly  joyous  and  playful,  and  full 
of  a  sort  of  contemptuous  triumph,  as  though  he  sought 
to  flout  the  rest  of  the  world.  May  is  his  nuptial  month, 
and  it  is  at  this  period  he  most  delights  us  with  his  varied 
melody  and  wild  song.  The  nesting  is  done  in  some  low, 
sweet  copse,  hidden  closely  from  the  eye  of  man,  but  he 
lauds  himself  in  the  full  sight  of  day.  In  the  early  morn- 
ing and  evening  particularly  he  makes  the  grove  vocal, 
and  drowns  the  song  of  other  birds.  Mounting  the  top- 
niost  spray  of  the  tallest  tree  in  the  vicinity  of  his  lowly 
home,  he  glances  proudly  around,  and  pours  out  his  feel- 
ings in  a  strain  somewhat  like  this, — "  chick,  chick,  chick, 
— look  here,  look  here  !  wheu  ....  u, — what,  what,  you 
did,  you  did, — tewee,  tewee,  (a  soft  treble) — where,  where, 
where!  whi-r-r-e-e,  (a  whistle) — wh-i-r-r  ....  up.  See 
here,  see  here, — ho  I  who  are  ye  ?  who  are  ye?" 

Going  out  one  morning  at  sunrise  I  was  greeted  in  this 
manner:  "  What,  what !  Up  so  early  ?  up  so  early ! 
Whew !  ha,  ha,  ha,  ha, — go  to  bed  again — to  bed  again. 
You  will  ?  you  will  ?  ha,  ha,  wh-e-w  !  "  All  the  while  I 
could  not  catch  sight  of  the  saucy  rascal,  who  from  a  lofty, 
but  leafy  tree  top  thus  jeered  over  my  head  at  lazy  man, 
who  spends  in  sluggard  slumber  those  precious  hours  of 
early  day  which  are  the  very  carnival  time  of  these  happy 

This  kind  of  rhapsody  is  continued  many  minutes — 
sometimes  a  full  half  hour — at  a  stretch.  Then  he  quits, 
only  to  find  a  new  station  and  renew  his  wild  refrain. 
As  soon  as  the  young  are  hatched  the  cares  of  family  are 
a  sad  drawback  to  his  gayety  ;    superseded,  perhaps,  by  a 


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deeper  joy.  At  least  his  glad  strains  are  heard  at  long 
intervals,  and  are  only  feebly  renewed  until  the  next 
nuptial  season.  But  even  this  short  season  of  song  es- 
tablishes for  this  mock-bird  of  the  North  a  place  in  our 
homage  second  to  no  other  of  our  American  choristers. 
He  is  more  than  the  rival  of  the  Southern  mocking-bird. 

During  the  summer  he  is  a  frequent  visitor  to  my 
lawn,  on  the  lookout  for  worms.  Here  he  hops  about, 
almost  as  familiarly  as  the  robins,  contrasting  with  their 
plump,  well-to-do,  cheery  air  his  more  slender  and  grace- 
ful figure  and  quaker  suit  of  sober  brown.  Though 
easily  tamed,  he  loses  taste  for  his  ambitious  perform- 
ances when  caged.  The  Southern  bird,  on  the  contrary, 
is  very  socially  inclined,  whether  he  be  free  or  caged,  and 
has  a  natural  tendency  to  domestication. 

I  will  barely  mention  one  other  bird  which  is  named 
among  our  mockers — the  cat-bird  {Orpheus  carolinensis)* 
Aside  from  its  harsh  mew  and  other  discordant  notes,  it 
has  a  peculiarly  sweet,  low  song  of  its  own,  which  few 
who  note  its  harsh  cry  are  aware  of. 

Birds,  unfortunately,  have  often  found  their  worst 
enemy  in  man,  though  it  is  to  be  hoped  that  time  has 
nearly  gone  by.  Game  laws  are  now  common  in  most  of 
the  States,  regulating  by  legal  enactment  the  seasons 
when,  and  the  kinds  of  birds  that  may  be  killed  for  food 
or  sport.  At  last,  Michigan  has  gone  further  still  in  the 
right  direction,  by  a  law  which  prohibits  at  all  times  the 
destruction  of  "song  birds.*'  If  all  cultivators  of  the 
soil,  as  well  as  all  lovers  of  birds,  will  be  convinced  of  the 
wisdom  of  this  law  and  will  see  it  enforced,  we  shall  sopn 
have  full  light  on  the  mooted  question,  how  far  the  little 
plunderers  of  our  grain  and  fruits  are  our  real  friends. 
In  this  matter  the  Germans  have  shown  much  practical 


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Wisdom,  their  laws  aflfording  protection  to  nearly  all  the 
species  of  birds  common  to  that  country,  and  leaving  no 
useful  bird  outlawed. 

Almost  all  birds  are  known  to  be  insectivorous,  and  in 
by  far  the  larger  number  their  chief  food  is  animal  and 
not  vegetable.  If  the  records  of  those  investigators  who 
pretend  to  accurate  computations  of  the  amount  that 
birds  consume  are  reliable,  it  is  almost  incredible  the 
number  of  insect  pests  which  are  thus  got  rid  of.  It  de- 
fies calculation.  We  have  statements  like  these:  A  family 
of  jays,  with  five  young,  requires  for  its  commissariat,  in  a 
season  of  one  hundred  days,  20,000  insects ;  *  Bradley, 
an  English  writer,  mentions  watching  a  nest  of  birds  and 
discovering  that  500  caterpillars  were  consumed  in  one 
day ; '  the  titmouse  or  chicadee  is  computed  to  destroy 
over  200,000  eggs  alone  of  noxious  insects  in  a  year. 

Birds  get  at  insects  that  man,  with  all  his  arts  of 
destruction,  cannot  reach  ;  on  the  topmost  boughs — the 
under  side  of  leaves — in  the  crevices  of  bark — within  the 
tree  itself — beneath  the  surface  of  the  soil.  If  those  who 
kill  birds  that  they  chance  to  find  in  their  grain  fields  or 
fruit  gardens  will  examine  their  crops,  it  will  generally  be 
found  that  worms,  insects  and  larvae  constitute  the  prin- 
cipal contents,  greatly  predominating  over  the  vegetable 
portions.  With  few  exceptions  the  young  of  all  birds  are 
fed  with  this  kind  of  animal  food.  Robins  and  thrushes, 
who  make  so  free  with  some  of  our  fruits,  certainly  do 
not  make  these  their  chief  food  even  at  such  times.  The 
whole  summer  long  they  are  busily  consuming  our  insect 
foes,  and  when  we  see  them  upon  our  lawns  they  are 
always  diligently  occupied  in  searching  for  and  tugging 
at  the  worms  which  infest  the  roots  of  grasses. 

Dr.  Trimble  has  devoted  an  active  life  to  the  discovery 


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of  the  means  of  getting  rid  of  the  curculios  and  other 
insects  that  are  so  destructive  to  fruits.  Hear  what  he 
says  of  the  cedar-bird,  that  persistent  plunderer  of  our 
finest  cherries,  and  who  receives  no  mercy  at  the  hands 
of  fruit  lovers.  "  The  cedar-bird,  though  it  is  a  great 
consumer  of  cherries  and  berries,  feeds  as  freely  on  in- 
sects. Canker-worms,  beetles  and  other  insects,  injurious 
to  the  foliage  of  fruit  and  shade  trees,  are  devoured  in 
vast  numbers  by  these  birds.  I  have  found  as  many  as 
thirty-six  young  canker-worms  in  the  stomach  of  one,  and 
I  have  known  companies  of  these  birds  come  after  a 
species  of  canker-worm  on  a  cherry  tree  several  times 
every  day  for  two  weeks  during  the  last  summer ;  and 
when  I  saw  them  afterwards  feeding  upon  the  cherries, 
I  felt  that  they  had  saved  the  crop  and  were  entitled  to  a 
part  of  it.** 

But  while  our  song  birds  sometimes  receive  legal  pro- 
tection against  wholesale  slaughter,  other  kinds,  which 
do  not  come  under  that  appellation,  are  left  without  the 
pale.  The  popular  voice  condemns  the  crow  and  the 
blackbird.  Legislatures  have  even  offered  rewards  for 
their  destruction,  together  with  woodpeckers  and  other 
birds  that  are  generally  supposed  to  be  injurious  to  the 
crops ;  and  the  whole  family  of  hawks  find  in  man  a  most 
inveterate  enemy.  This  discrimination  is  hardly  fair  to 
the  poor  beings  that  suffer  from  it,  and  its  wisdom  is  at 
least  very  doubtful. 

The  food  of  these,  as  of  most  birds,  is  almost  exclusively 
animal.  Naturalists  who  have  studied  the  habits  and  ex- 
amined the  stomachs  and  crops,  speak  in  their  favor,  as 
the  friends  rather  than  the  enemies  of  man, — even  those 
most  proscribed  by  him.  They  are  proved  to  be  more 
destructive  to  the  pests  of  the  planter  than  to  his  fruits 


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and  seeds.  Their  structure,  too,  confirms  this  judgment. 
I  think  it  a  safe  rule  that  birds  of  all  kinds  are  of  greater 
benefit  than  injury  to  man,  and  are  entitled  to  his  pro- 
tection, until  experience  shall  have  conclusively  shown 
the  contrary. 

Audubon  defends  the  crow,  which,  he  says,  "  devours 
myriads  of  grubs  every  day  in  the  year,  that  might  lay 
waste  the  farmer's  fields  ;  it  destroys  quadrupeds  innu- 
merable, every  one  of  which  is  an  enemy  to  his  poultry 
and  his  flocks. " 

Insects  have  been  found  to  increase  in  proportion  as 
birds  have  been  proscribed  by  public  opinion  and  by  law ; 
so  that,  in  some  instances,  counter  legislation  has  become 
necessary.  This  was  the  case  with  the  rook  in  England 
— a  bird  whose  habits  resemble  those  of  our  crow. 
Now  he  enjoys  protection  from  the  law,  and  is  every- 
where the  welcome  guest  of  the  people.  Let  such  as 
condemn  the  birds  which  they  sometimes  see  eating 
their  corn  or  fruits,  read  "The  Birds  of  Killingworth." 
Longfellow's  poem  is  no  mere  poetic  fiction,  but  illus- 
trates a  truth  which  will  soon  come  home  to  all  who, 
in  the  spirit  of  the  old  Spaniards,  cut  down  their  trees, 
because  they  harbored  the  birds  that  consume  their  grain. 
Even  in  this  country,  and  near  home,  we  have  had  exam- 
ples of  this  kind  of  wisdom.  I  trust  to  see  Michigan — 
already  in  many  things  in  the  van  of  public  opinion — so 
amend  her  law  as  to  include  under  its  protection  all  the 
birds  that  now  suffer  unjustly  from  its  real  or  implied 
proscription.*  But  still  more,  I  trust  to  the  advance  of 
an  enlightened  public  opinion,  and  therefore  throw  in 
my  mite  towards  a  just  decision. 

In  our  plea  for  the  birds  shall  we  make  an  exception  of 
the  European  sparrow  ?     Imported  into  New  York  City 


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some  twenty-five  years  ago,  it  is  said  they  cleared  the 
trees  in  the  parks  of  caterpillars  that  had  long  greatly  in- 
fested them.  I  have  felt  disposed  to  question  the  fact, 
from  my  observations  here.  They  had  full  opportunity 
to  do  the  same  service  to  my  linden  trees,  but  did  not. 
They  must  have  found  America  a  congenial  home,  for 
they  have  spread  with  wonderful  rapidity,  until  now  few 
parts  of  the  country  are  without  them.  Wherever  these 
saucy  little  fellows  appear  they  take  undisputed  posses- 
sion,  driving  out  other  birds,  and  asserting  their  superior 
claims  with  mettlesome  vivacity.  They  enliven  the  city 
streets  with  their  pert  ways.  They  would  leave  the 
farmer  no  grain  to  harvest,  if  it  were  not  that  they  prefer 
city  life  to  country.  No  one  seems  to  know  whether 
they  have  any  good  to  balance  their  evil  qualities,  and 
public  opinion  universally  condemns  them.  I  am  happily 
able  to  give  one  recent  and  notable  instance  of  their  in- 
sectivorous habit.  During  the  year  1885,  the  seventeen- 
year  locusts  made  their  appearance  in  some  of  their  old 
haunts,  and,  among  other  places,  in  the  vicinity  of  Wash- 
ington. A  scientific  gentleman  there  watched  the  pro- 
ceedings of  the  sparrows.  He  saw  that  they  devoured 
the  insects  voraciously,  and  at  first  whole.  After  awhile, 
finding  the  supply  so  considerable,  they  satisfied  them- 
selves with  thd  bodies  only,  rejecting  the  wings  and  legs. 
But  the  numbers  being  great  and  the  birds  satiated,  they 
began  to  content  themselves  with  the  heads  only.  In 
this  way  they  succeeded  in  clearing  the  whole  district  of  a 
pest  that  certainly  would  have  proved  a  much  more  for- 
midable enemy  than  its  destroyers. 

Much  as  we  see  of  the  birds,  and  many  as  are  the 
beautifuJ  things  told  about  them  by  such  admirers  as 
Audubon,   Wilson,  and   a  host  of  lesser  lovers,   there 


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BIRD  WAYS.  317 

is  still  enough  that  is  unknown  in  their  history  to 
arouse  the  interest  of  fresh  observers.  Could  we,  like 
Prince  Ahmed,  of  the  fairy  tale,  understand  the  lan- 
guage of  these  beings  of  the  air,  how  much  would  their 
song  and  twitter  convey  to  us  of  the  hidden  mysteries  of 
their  lives ! 

We  know  little  about  their  courtships,  the  tender 
communications  of  the  married  and  the  parental  pair, 
perhaps  of  their  lovers*  quarrels.  For,  though  patterns 
of  conjugal  fidelity,  there  are  exceptions  to  the  rule, 
and  known  instances  of  jealousy  and  of  unfaithfulness. 
Have  they  Caudles  among  them  too  ?  How  do  they  de- 
cide in  selecting  sites  for  their  nests?  We  know  that 
many  days  of  anxious  search  and  inquiry  are  often  con- 
sumed in  this  business,  and  that  individuals  of  the  same 
species  do  not  follow  an  unvarying  instinct.  Which  of 
the  lovers  yields  to  the  other,  when  there  is  difference  of 
opinion  ?  We  will  presume  that  the  gallantry  of  the 
husband  abandons  the  decision  to  his  chosen  mate,  else 
why  are  these  questions  so  readily  settled  and  with  so 
little  debate  ?  Does  the  married  pair  continue  faithful 
to  their  early  love,  during  all  the  seasons  that  follow,  and 
do  they  always  return — we  know  many  do — to  the  same 
nests?  How  are  their  deliberations  conducted  and 
decisions  arrived  at,  when,  contemplating  their  long 
journeys,  they  hold  council  together?  What  unknown 
law  or  instinct  regulates  these  migrations,  and  "  guides 
through  the  pathless  air  their  certain  flight  ?  "  Have  they 
a  correcter  prescience  than  we,  wise  men,  of  the  future, 
of  coming  storms,  of  earlier  or  later  renewals  of  the 
spring  ?  Will  they  not  some  time  impart  to  us  this  secret 
and  important  knowledge  ? 

It  may  be  that  man  is  debarred  from  this  kind  of  in- 


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sight  until  he  shall  return  to  the  innocence  of  that 
happy  era  of  which  the  poet  tells  us : 

**  When  time  was  young, 
And  birds  conversed  as  well  as  sung ;  *' 

when  their  conversation — he  means  to  say — was  under- 
stood by  human  ears ;  for  even  now  they  talk,  and  very 
volubly,  with  each  other.  And  even  now  we  are  on  the 
road  to  a  more  perfect  knowledge,  and  have  learned 
enough  of  their  language  and  ways  to  stimulate  further 
inquiries  and  keep  alive  enthusiasm. 

It  is  wonderful  how  easily  most  birds  may  be  tamed. 
Whether  or  not  those  about  my  home,  protected  by  the 
law  of  the  place,  acknowledge  more  emphatically  the 
fact  that  they  have  here  a  safe  asylum,  certain  it  is  that 
they  are  very  fearless  and  almost  domesticated.  Cher- 
ries and  favorite  fruits  suffer  more,  in  consequence,  but 
such  thefts  are  richly  compensated  by  the  crowd  of  song- 
sters that  charm  us  with  their  thousand  winning  ways. 

Even  old  birds  are  easily  caught,  and  it  is  almost  a 
daily  occurrence,  during  the  breeding  season,  that  half- 
fledged  youngsters  are  brought  into  the  house  by  some 
of  the  family,  fed  and  nursed  for  a  few  days,  and  sent 
forth  into  their  own  world  again.  Almost  any  young 
bird  will  scarcely  make  the  attempt  to  escape  after  be- 
ing held  a  few  minutes  in  the  hand,  his  feathers  stroked, 
and  food  given  him.  A  five-minutes  petting  makes  him 
one  of  us.  The  old  birds  are  naturally  more  wary,  but 
let  suspicion  once  be  removed,  and  they  are  readily 
brought  to  recognize  human  kindness. 

A  male  of  that  shy  family,  the  cherry-bird,  was  capt- 
ured in  my  grounds,  on  the  very  scene  of  his  pilferings. 
It  was  found  that  he  had  been  wounded,  though  slightly, 


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yet  in  such  a  manner  that  one  wing  had  become  glued 
to  his  side  by  the  dried  gore,  and  was  useless.  He  was 
taken  in  charge  by  a  lady  of  the  household,  bathed  with 
warm  water,  and  fed  with  a  few  worms.  He  was  at  once 
reconciled  to  his  captor,  ate  ravenously  the  congenial 
food,  sipped  water  from  his  nurse's  mouth,  and  sat  upon 
her  finger,  as  familiarly  as  if  they  had  been  acquainted 
for  months,  instead  of  minutes. 

The  result  of  this  kind  and  brief  attention  exhibits  in 
a  remarkable  manner  the  readiness  with  which  gratitude 
may  be  awakened  in  the  bird  breast.  The  lady  friend 
after  her  nursing  care,  took  him  to  the  balcony  of  an 
open  window  where  the  sun  was  shining,  to  diy  his 
drenched  feathers.  Here  she  began  tossing  him  on  her 
finger  and  fluttering  his  wings.  The  impulse  of  his  sud- 
denly regained  powers  of  flight  was  too  strong  to  be  re- 
sisted, and  the  bird  made  speedy  use  of  his  wings  to  fly 
to  a  neighboring  tree.  There  he  sat  a  few  moments, 
trimming  himself ;  then,  as  if  conscious  of  the  French 
leave  he  had  taken,  he  flew  back  to  his  protector, 
alighted  on  her  shoulder,  and  put  his  beak  to  her  face, 
as  if  in  penitence  for  his  forgetfulness ;  but  upon  her  at- 
tempting to  enter  the  house,  he  again  made  his  adieu 
and  disappeared.  But  gratitude  was  not  yet  expended. 
The  next  day,  as  his  nurse  stood  in  the  window,  he  came 
and  alighted  on  the  balcony,  almost  within  reach,  but  he 
would  not  permit  nearer  approach ;  his  old  wariness  was 
returning,  and  on  the  attempt  being  made  to  capture 
him,  took  his  departure  and  was  seen  no  more. 

Every  one  loves  the  birds,  but  it  is  only  one  who 
truly  loves  and  revels  in  country  pleasures  that  appreci- 
ates to  the  full  this  source  of  enjoyment.  Birds  are  the 
earliest  acquaintances  that  greet  us  in  the  spring,  when 


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no  feeling  heart  can  resist  their  nuptial  notes  of  gladness. 
They  continue  to  haunt  our  homes,  and  flit  about  our 
gardens  and  copses,  still  uttering  their  songs,  in  some- 
what soberer  strains,  during  the  long  days  of  summer; 
and  some  remain  to  cheer  that  bleak  season,  when  so 
much  of  nature  is  dormant,  becoming  more  familiar  with 
us  as  they  more  need  our  care. 

Wherever  heard  or  seen,  they  communicate  to  our 
bosoms  the  joy  which  inspires  their  songs,  and  they 
teach  us  heedful  lessons  of  conjugal  love  and  domestic 
felicity.  How  large  a  share  indeed  of  the  charm  of 
rural  life  is  due  to  the  birds ! 


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"  Himself  to  Nature's  heart  so  near 
That  all  her  voices  in  his  ear 
Of  beast  or  bird  had  meanings  clear." 


ik  every  family  should  have  a  dog  (or  a  cat  or  a  parrot) ;  it  is 
\g  a  perpetual  baby ;  it  is  the  plaything  and  crony  of  the  whole 
t  keeps  them  all  young." — Dr.  John  Brown. 


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Springwells, ,  1 85 1. 

DEAR  TOM  : — I  am  not  a  naturalist,  but  am  by  no 
means  indifferent  to  the  brute  creation  around  me, 
and  such  facts  and  observations  as  I  have  garnered,  in 
this  my  distant  home,  are  heartily  at  your  service. 

Beasts  of  prey  have  been  far  from  numerous  in  this 
neighborhood  for  many  years.  Yet  we  hear  occasionally 
of  their  depredations.  There  are  in  this  county  swamps 
which  are  the  resort  of  bears,  and  from  which  they  some- 
times emerge  upon  the  settlements,  stealing  a  pig  or  two. 

The  Detroit  journals  once  in  a  while  give,  for  the  morn- 
ing entertainment  of  their  readers,  accounts  of  the  ma- 
rauding exploits  of  these  animals,  within  five  or  six  miles 
of  the  city. 

In  1839,  during  a  night  which  I  passed  at  the  village  of 
New  Port,  on  St.  Clair  River,  several  bears  visited  the 
place,  their  tracks  being  plainly  visible  in  the  streets  the 
next  morning.-  They  are  still  quite  common  about  the 
remoter  settlements. 

While  encamped  in  the  woods  of  Michigan,  at  many 
places  I  have  heard  **  the  wolf's  long  howl,"  but  never 
caught  a  sight  of  the  *' varmints.**  Large  bounties  of- 
fered by  most  of  the  counties  for  their  scalps  have  so  re- 
duced their  numbers,  that,  except  in  the  extreme  settle- 
ments, we  seldom  hear  of  any  depredations  committed 
by  them.  Sheep  in  the  vicinity  of  our  towns  suffer  more 
from  dogs  than  from  their  wilder  cousins. 



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Another  of  the  disturbing  cries  of  the  remoter  forests  is 
that  of  the  lynx.  It  is  so  like  the  voice  of  a  man  that 
I  have  been  deceived  by  it,  while  following  a  newly 
blazed  township  line,  and  made  frequent  rests,  answer- 
ing back,  under  the  impression  that  some  man  had  lost 
his  way,  and  was  endeavoring  to  overtake  me.  The 
animal  was  indeed  following  our  trail,  stopping  and  ut- 
tering his  cries  at  each  pausing  place,  attracted  probably 
by  the  scent  of  the  provender  we  carried  in  our  knapsacks. 

Such  fierce  brutes  as  panthers  and  catamounts  are  but 
little  known  in  Michigan,  even  in  the  wilder  portions  of  the 
upper  peninsula.  As  to  still  fiercer  brutes,  every  school- 
boy knows  that  the  poet  Campbell  had  no  zoological 
authority  for  his  line  : 

"  On  Erie's  banks  where  tigers  steal  along." 

\iv\^^%  panthers  were  intended,  this  is  rather  a  strain  even 
upon  the  poetic  license. 

In  my  experience  of  many  nights  passed  in  the  soli- 
tudes of  Lake  Superior,  my  camp  was  never  disturbed 
by  the  presence  of  wild  animals,  nor  suffered  from  their 
thefts ;  which  is  more  than  I  can  say  for  the  lords  of 
creation,  white  or  red. 

In  the  fall  of  1850,  while  at  Yankee-Springs,  in  Barry 
Co.,  a  hunter  brought  into  the  village  a  wild-cat  which  he 
had  just  shot.  It  -measured  three  feet  from  snout  to  end 
of  tail !  The  animal  measured  in  height,  standing,  eigh- 
teen inches.  Color  of  back  a  dark  gray;  belly  and 
thighs  spotted,  like  a  lynx.  Its  resemblance  to  the  do- 
mestic cat  is  most  striking,  particularly  in  the  face,  but 
the  tail  of  the  wild  animal  is  very  dissimilar,  being  only 
three  inches  in  length.  The  man  said  he  shot  it  on  the 
openings,   a   mile    from  the   village;    that   being  intent 


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upon  a  deer,  he  at  first  supposed  the  catamount  to  be  a 
rabbit.  The  cat  was  hunting  mice,  and  was  equally  ob- 
livious of  the  man's  presence. 

The  wolverene,  which  has  given  a  pseudonym  to  the 
inhabitants  of  Michigan,  might  on  that  account  be  sup- 
posed to  abound  in  the  State.  But  the  fact  is,  the  animal 
is  extremely  rare.  It  may  have  been,  and  probably  was, 
once  numerous,  since  the  beaver  and  muskrat,  which  are 
its  prey,  abounded  in  our  rivers  and  marshes. 

Not  long  ago  I  saw  the  stuffed  skin  of  a  wolverene  at 
a  fur  store  in  Detroit.  It  was  considered  a  great  curi- 
osity, on  account  of  the  rarity  of  this  fierce  quadruped. 
Some  of  the  oldest  inhabitants,  even  that  old  fur-trader, 
James  Abbott,  had  never  before  seen  one.  This  skin, 
which  was  brought  from  Lake  Superior,  measured,  from 
snout  to  extremity  of  tail,  3  feet  10  inches ;  the  tail  be- 
ing about  8  inches  and  very  bushy.  The  hair  is  coarse, 
•  but  long  and  brushy,  like  that  of  a  bear.  Indeed,  the 
resemblance  to  that  animal  is  quite  close  in  some  par- 
ticulars. Its  color  is  mottled  brown  and  black,  with  a 
patch  of  white  under  throat  and  breast.  The  claws  are 
long,  sharp,  and  much  hooked,  the  legs  stout  and  hairy 
down  to  the  claws,  like  those  of  a  bear,  and  the  hind 
feet,  like  the  bear's,  are  plantigrade.  The  snout  appears 
to  be  long  and  tapering,  but  from  the  imperfect  manner 
in  which  this  specimen  was  preserved,  this  feature  could 
not  be  accurately  determined.  I  have  been  told  by  an 
Indian  that  it  climbs  trees  as  the  bear  does,  which  from 
the  similarity  of  its  structure  seems  probable. 

Though  not  large,  this  beast  is  very  formidable ;  its 
great  strength  and  ferocity  making  it  a  terror  to  animals 
larger  than  itself.     It  is  known  to  the  French  voyageurs 


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as  the  carcajou, — probably  a  corruption  of  its  Indian 

Among  predatory  animals,  the  fox  had  not  been  en- 
tirely extirpated  from  these  parts  at  the  time  of  my  first 
residence.  I  saw  in  1836,  in  the  sandy  lands  at  Spring- 
wells,  several  fox  holes,  and  could  hear  the  bark  of  the 
inmates,  but  sly  Reynard  kept  himself  concealed.  The 
holes  were  a  curiosity,  being  large  enough  almost  to 
admit  a  man,  and  running  to  a  considerable  distance, 
judging  from  the  large  heaps  of  sand  collected  about  the 
mouth.  Master  John,  one  of  my  young  neighbors,  who 
showed  them  to  me,  thinks  they  all  terminate  in  an  ex- 
tensive apartment, — the  social  parlor  of  the  clan. 

Quite  recently  a  red  fox  established  a  hiding-place 
under  the  portico  of  my  house,  from  whence  he  made 
sundry  destructive  raids  into  the  hen-roosts. 

Among  the  rarest  of  animals  sought  for  their  fur  is  the 
silver-gray  fox.  Its  skin  commands  a  high  price,  and  is 
said  to  be  particularly  esteemed  by  the  nobility  of 
Russia.  I  saw  recently  the  skin  of  one  of  those  foxes, 
caught  in  Michigan.  Its  gray  fur  is  tipped  or,  as  it  were, 
frosted  with  white,  like  frozen  vapor,  an  appearance  both 
unique  and  beautiful. 

Of  the  smaller  animals  that  make  inroads  upon  our 
poultry,  the  skunk  is  one  of  the  most  numerous  and 
troublesome.  It  is  by  no  means  so  cunning  as  the  fox, 
and  if  found  at  a  distance  from  its  retreat  is  easily  killed. 
I  will  not  say  caught,  for  direful  consequences  frequently 
attend  even  the  operation  of  killing.  Without  seeking 
them,  the  inmates  of  the  mansion  have  bat  too  often  an 
all -pervading  notice  of  their  presence  near  the  premises. 
The  house  dog  sometimes  encounters  one,  and  in  con- 
sequence his  approach  to  the  family  must  be  tabooed  for 


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several  days.  The  horses  not  unfrequently  come  from 
the  stable  strongly  redolent  of  a  perfume  which  is  neither 
musk  nor  ottar  of  roses. 

But  they  are  a  beautiful  animal,  and  might  be  par- 
doned the  moral  pollution  of  their  thieving  habits  if 
they  would  refrain  from  tainting  the  physical  atmosphere. 
I  once  came  upon  a  family  of  young  ones,  which  had 
crept  out  of  a  hole  beneath  an  out-house.  They  were 
mostly  white,  and  playful  as  kittens,  rolling  themselves 
together  in  such  a  complicated  way,  that,  like  the  Dutch- 
man's frisky  pig,  it  was  impossible  to  count  them.  Al- 
though the  fur  is  coarse,  I  once  received  from  an  Indian 
a  tobacco-pouch  made,  of  the  skin  of  this  creature,  which 
was  deservedly  prized  for  its  beauty.  I  have  been  told 
of  Frenchmen  who  domesticate  the  animal,  as  they  do  a 
cat,  in  their  household,  and  who  know  how  to  extract  the 
odorous  sack. 

These  are  among  our  pests.  I  am  pleased,  on  the  con- 
trary, with  the  presence  of  those  little  depredators,  the 
squirrels,  and  will  not  allow  them  to  be  shot — if  I  can 
help  it — on  my  grounds.  ,  One  of  the  pleasures  of  the 
country  consists  in  watching  the  habits  of  animals,  and 
the  squirrel  tribe  is  so  lively  and  graceful,  that  his  win- 
ning ways  atone  for  all  his  petty  thefts  from  the  field 
and  corn-crib.  Gladly  would  I  domesticate  him — a  not 
difficult  task — if  dogs,  boys  and  guns  could  be  kept  at  a 
respectful  distance.  He  shall  be  free,  so  long  as  I  have 
sway,  to  come  and  go,  to  hibernate  on  my  premises,  to 
glean  the  nut  trees,  and  of  course  to  lay  up  stores  of 

But  though  dogs  may  be  taught  to  respect  these  wards 
of  their  master,  not  so  the  cat.  A  colony  of  the  little 
red  squirrel,  which  had  become  quite  tame,  and  amused 


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US  with  their  lively  gambols  from  tree  to  tree,  just  in 
front  of  the  house,  were  all  murdered  by  a  mere  kitten, — 
a  famous  mouser  and  bird-catcher,  who  in  turn  suffered 
the  penalty,  but  only  too  late. 

The  little  red  squirrel  is  the  most  abundant,  but  we 
are  visited  also  by  the  larger  gray-and-black  species,  and 
the  fox  squirrel.  All  these  would  become  frequent  and 
well-contented  visitors  in  my  grounds  if  they  could  be 
protected  from  lawless  sportsmen. 

It  is  only  in  recent  years  that  the  flying  squirrel  has 
come  to  my  knowledge  as  an  inhabitant  of  my  premises. 

My  first  discovery  connected  with  them  was  the  finding 
of  several  holes  in  a  poplar  tree,  about  fifteen  feet  from 
the  ground,  and  seeing  a  small  animal  issue  from  one. 
Each  of  these  holes  was  about  an  inch  diameter,  and  as 
exactly  circular  as  if  smoothly  bored  with  an  auger. 

Running  to  the  top  of  the  tree  the  creature  made  a 
spring  into  the  air,  and  spreading  its  webs, — which  are 
wings  in  the  same  sense  as  a  bat*s, — reached  another  tree 
fully  a  hundred  feet  distant.  Its  flight  was  not  horizon- 
tal, but  in  a  descending  line,  which  bore  it  to  the  tree 
at  only  a  few  feet  above  the  ground.  The  animal  does 
not  merely  spread  its  membranous  sides,  but  has  a  bal- 
ancing motion,  like  that  of  birds  sailing  through  the  air, 
which  no  doubt  greatly  assists  to  sustain  it,  and  its  prog- 
ress may  fairly  be  called  a  flight.  It  evidently  has 
some  command  of  its  wings,  beyond  that  of  a  mere  par- 
achute, for  I  observed  that  when  a  few  feet  from  the  tree, 
instead  of  continuing  its  direct  course,  which  would  have 
carried  it  to  the  ground,  it  changed  the  direction  to  that 
of  an  upward  curve,  alighting  on  the  tree. 

About  two  years  ago  I  fixed  up  a  bird-house  in  a  small 
tree,  where  it  was  sharply  contended  for,  and  finally  taken 


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possession  of  by  a  pair  of  bluebirds.  After  the  first  year 
I  observed  that  birds  no  longer  frequented  it,  and  on 
getting  up  to  investigate,  out  rushed  a  flying  squirrel, 
which  immediately,  as  is  its  wont,  ascended  the  highest 
branch,  and  thence  took  flight.  This  adoption  of  an 
abode  so  near  my  own  would  have  been  a  very  pleasing 
incident,  but  for  the  fact  that  these  little  animals  seldom 
make  their  appearance  by  day,  coming  out  only  after 
nightfall,  so  that  their  acquaintance  is  rare  and  unsatis- 

I  have  discovered  one  other  nut-collector  in  our  neigh- 
borhood. While  chopping  one  winter  day  in  the  woods, 
I  found  in  a  hollow  tree  a  nest  of  deer-mice.  They  were 
snugly  housed  in  various  soft  materials,  and  had  an  en- 
trance just  large  enough  for  their  purpose,  at  the  height 
of  two  feet  from  the  ground.  It  was  small  enough  to  ex- 
clude their  enemies,  the  black  squirrels,  who — the  thiev- 
ing rogues — I  very  much  fear  help  to  maintain  them- 
selves during  the  winter  by  depredating  upon  their  weaker 
neighbors.  Cruel  as  we  may  sometimes  deem  it,  the  law 
of  the  strongest  is  nature's  law : 

" ^the  simple  plan, 

That  he  should  take  who  has  the  power, 
And  he  should  keep  who  can.** 

In  the  wild  state,  almost  uHiversally,  one  half  of  life  is 
spent  in  providing  for  self-gratification,  and  the  other  in 
self-preservation  against  natural  enemies. 

Just  over  this  nest  were  found  two  quarts  of  peeled 
acorns,  with  a  large  quantity  of  beach-nuts  and  seeds. 
These  little  creatures,  it  seems,  by  no  means  lie  dormant 
through  the  long,  cold  winter.  They  are  a  harmless  ani- 
mal, never  found  except  in  the  forest. 

The  American  deer  formerly  abounded  in  these  parts, 


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and  IS  still  hunted  and  killed  in  considerable  numbers 
not  many  miles  from  the  city.  Settlements  have  now 
excluded  them  from  this  vicinity.  In  the  early  days  of 
my  residence  here  it  was  not  an  uncommon  thing  to  find 
them  in  the  woods  that  bordered  the  clearings,  within 
sight  of  the  dwellings  along  the  river  road.  I  have  seen 
one  in  full  day  making  his  way  down  a  lane  which  led 
from  the  woods  to  a  pond  on  my  farm,  probably  at- 
tracted by  the  water.  He  had  almost  reached  it,  when, 
catching  sight  of  my  terrible  self,  he  turned  and  bounded 
back  to  his  covert.  I  was  reminded  of  CampbelFs  de- 
scription, in  "  Gertrude  of  Wyoming  " : 

"The  wild  deer  arched  his  neck  from  glades,  and  then 
He  sought  his  woods  and  wilderness  again.'* 

In  my  first  drive  through  the  oak-openings  of  our  pe- 
ninsula, which  I  recall  with  infinite  delight,  frequent 
glimpses  of  deer  were  caught,  through  the  open  park-like 
timber.  Sometimes  they  would  come  out  and  stand  in 
the  road,  curiosity  for  awhile  overcoming  their  natural 

During  my  horseback  rides  it  has  several  times  hap- 
pened that  I  came  upon  deer  standing  with  the  cattle, 
near  a  farmer's  homestead.  They  seem  to  have  no  fear 
of  these  domesticated  anin^als,  nor  of  the  horse,  and  they 
evidently  did  not  notice  the  rider,  until  close  upon  them, 
when  they  instantly  turned  and  fled.  That  *  the  fear  and 
the  dread  of  man  *  has  been  impressed  *  upon  every  beast 
of  the  field  *  since  the  days  of  Adam  is  no  compliment  to 
man.  It  would  not  have  been  so,  but  for  the  discovery 
of  his  duplicity  and  cunning. 

The  deer  is  so  readily  domesticated  that  it  would  be 
easy  to  stock  every  farm  or  gentleman's  grounds  with 


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them,  as  is  so  largely  done  in  Europe.  But  a  game- 
keeper would  be  necessary,  and  so  near  as  this  is  to  a 
considerable  city,  the  case  is  difficult.  I  made  the  exper- 
iment with  several  that  had  been  reared  from  fawns,  two 
of  which  were  with  me  for  two  years,  and  until  the 
buck's  horns  had  sprouted  several  inches.  They  roamed 
at  large  through  a  woodland  pasture  of  some  20  acres. 
This  was  enclosed  by  a  six-foot  picket  fence,  with  a  light 
wire  railing  next  the  grounds,  and  provided  in  winter  with 
a  warm  shelter  for  the  night.  But  boys  or  men»  dogs  and 
guns,  caused  the  loss  of  all  of  them,  much  to  the  regret  of 
the  children,  for  they  become  very  tame,  and  delight  to 
be  petted.  The  bucks  are  sometimes  saucy,  and  a  little 
dangerous  to  timid  children.  They  will  not  attack  a 
courageous  boy,  but  beat  down  and  strike  with  their 
hoofs  one  who  runs  from  them. 

I  must  mention  that  one  of  the  deer,  frightened  out  of 
the  enclosure,  which  they  could  jump  in  a  moment  of 
terror,  swam  the  river, — a  mile  to  the  Canadian  shore, — 
whence  he  was  returned  to  me,  after  a  long  time. 

In  woods  frequented  by  deer,  it  is  quite  common  to 
find  their  horns,  which  are  shed  every  year.  These  have 
been  found  pierced  through  the  trunks  of  trees.  I  have 
several  times  seen  sections  of  trees  preserved  as  curios- 
ities, in  which  the  horn  appeared  with  its  root  on  one  side 
and  the  tip  projecting  on  the  other.  It  is  commonly  be- 
lieved that  the  animal  has  forcibly  driven  this  weapon 
through  the  wood.  Such  a  feat  is  impossible.  The 
probability  is,  that,  in  the  effort  to  disencumber  himself 
of  his  horns,  the  buck  rubbed  them  so  hard  against  a  sap- 
ling as  to  break  through  the  bark,  and  wedge  the  tree 
firmly  between  the  antlers.  These  remain  fixed,  and  the 
wood  grows  over  them. 


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Sometimes  the  antlers  of  two  deer  are  found  inter- 
locked. I  have  seen  a  pair  so  firmly  wedged  together 
that  they  could  not  be  separated.  In  this  situation  they 
were  found  in  the  forest,  with  the  skeletons  of  their 
owners.  Either  in  play  or  fight  they  had  intertwined 
their  horns,  and  unable  to  part  them  had  thus  perished. 
Probably  they  were  engaged  in  fierce  combat.  And 
what  a  weird  thought,  that  a  blow  aimed  in  mutual  hate 
should  have  linked  two  foes  together,  and  made  them  in 
their  unhappy  fate  inseparable. 

Elks  and  moose  deer  are  still  found  in  the  northern 
and  little  settled  portions  of  our  lower  peninsula,  where  I 
have  seen  the  tracks  of  both,  and  procured  the  meat  of 
the  former,  which  I  thought  superior  to  venison. 

A  few  years  ago,  an  unusual  spectacle  appeared  in  our 
city  streets :  a  fine  male  elk,  harnessed  to  a  sleigh,  and 
drawing  two  men.  His  owner  was  a  farmer  near  Detroit. 
The  poor  animal  seemed  to  submit  very  unwillingly  to 
this  slavery,  and  panted  much  after  a  drive  of  four 

The  same  day  a  Mormon  exhibited  here,  from  Salt 
Lake,  two  female  elks.  They  were  beautiful  animals, 
and  though  bearing  a  general  resemblance  to  the  red  deer, 
had  a  camel-like  crook  to  the  neck,  and  were  quite 
shaggy.  Their  color  was  gray,  with  light  cream-colored 
rumps ;  tail  very  short ;  the  head  beautiful,  with  fine 
pointed  nose,  and  lively,  good-natured  eyes,  very  black. 

Of  the  small  and  common  fur-bearing  animals,  the  musk- 
rat  still  remains  with  us  in  considerable  numbers,  making 
every  season  his  house  of  reeds  and  mud  in  my  pond  and 
in  the  marshes  which  margin  the  river,  at  and  about  the 
mouth  of  the  Rouge.  When  the  winter  frosts  have  cut 
down  the   rushes  and   wild    rice,   these   houses   become 


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very  picturesque  objects,  rising  several  feet  above  the 
water,  and  looking  like  hay-cocks. 

That  ingenious  animal,  the  beaver,  once  so  numerous 
in  this  part  of  the  country,  is  exterminated.  But  he  has 
left  many  traces  of  his  former  labors  in  the  beaver-dams, 
still  visible  about  the  interior  marshes,  and  in  which  the 
logs  and  sticks  that  composed  their  foundation  are  still 
to  be  found,  deeply  covered  with  soil.  Though  I  have 
never  met  with  the  living  animal,  I  have  several  times 
seen  trees  that  had  been  recently  cut  down  by  them, 
along  our  Northern  streams.  The  marks  show  that  quite 
large  chips  were  cut  out  by  their  powerful  teeth,  and 
the  stump  is  left  with  a  cone-shaped  top. 

Truly  Yours. 


Dear  Tom  : — Perhaps  it  will  interest  you  if  I  follow 
up  my  epistle  of  last  week  with  an  equally  volumi- 
nous one  on  the  traits  of  domestic  animals.  These 
are  a  source  of  great  amusement  to  me,  in  town  or 
country.  But  in  the  latter,  as  there  is  more  freedom, 
opportunities  for  observing  them  are  greater. 

Everybody  in  the  country  keeps  one  or  more  dogs. 
Every  Canuck,  it  is  well  known,  keeps  five.  The  first 
which  acknowledged  me  master  was  of  the  "  bull  "  variety 
and  aptly  named  Veto,  He  received  his  cognomen  with 
his  puppyhood,  about  the  time  of  President  Jackson's 
famous  bank  veto,  but  he  earned  it  afterwards  by  his 
Jacksonian  qualities  and  boldness  in  my  service. 

For  several  years  my  farm  was  greatly  pestered  with 
ponies  of  the  little  Canadian  breed,  owned  by  some  of  my 
neighbors,  but  running  at  large.  These  were  branded 
with  their   owner's  initials  or  mark,  which  was  all  the 


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evidence  of  ownership  ever  exhibited,  until  they  were 
transferred  by  sale  into  other  hands.  They  received  no 
care  whatever,  were  neither  housed  nor  fed  through  the 
long,  cold  winters,  but  browsed  and  foraged  for  them- 
selves, and  contrived  to  **  make  by  hook  or  crook  a  decent 

Of  course  there  were  many  days  when  they  must  either 
starve  or  steal,  and  as  no  merely  lawful  fence  could  re- 
strain the  strongest  ones,  they  lived  by  depredation. 
Most  of  the  land  of  their  owners  was  still  in  a  state  of 
nature.  Mine  had  a  more  extended  cultivation,  stretch- 
ing back  a  long  distance  between  woods  belonging  to 
my  neighbors.  To  keep  out  these  marauders  was  prac- 
tically impossible.  To  impound  them,  or  take  the  law  in 
the  case,  was  difficult  and  costly,  and  besides  brought  on 
disagreeable  quarrels.  Yet  a  tame  acquiescence  in  the  in- 
jury could  not  be  thought  of. 

These  ponies  would  scour  along  the  road,  and  down 
the  lane,  like  a  troop  of  fiends,  making  night  hideous, 
break  down  my  fences,  visit  my  barn  and  stacks,  and  paw 
up  my  grass,  which  they  bit  to  the  very  roots.  Going 
forth  in  the  morning  I  would  find  a  troop  of  horse  in 

In  this  extremity,  Veto  stood  me  in  good  stead.  He 
was  large  and  powerful.  He  would  seize  a  horse  by  the 
nose,  and  maintain  his  grip  until  the  terrified  animal 
was  fairly  out  of  the  pasture  and  thrown  to  the  ground. 
I  have  known  a  powerful  horse  leap  a  fence,  with  the 
dog  hanging  to  his  nose  by  the  teethj  and  refusing  to  let 
go  his  hold.  Cattle  sometimes  entered  the  field  by  the 
gap  which  the  horses  had  made.  These  Veto  would 
seize,  sometimes  by  the  tail,  and  suffer  himself  to  be 
dragged  to  the  extremity  of  the  enclosure. 


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One  of  my.  own  cows  once  came  near  being  the  victim 
of  his  fierce  attacks.  Her  face  had  by  some  means  be- 
come plastered  with  mud,  and  as  she  was  entering  the 
open  gate  with  the  others,  at  nightfall,  was  not  recog- 
nized by  the  watchful  dog.  He  sprang  furiously  forward 
and  was  on  the  point  of  seizing  her  by  the  nose,  when  he 
discovered  the  mistake.  It  was  curious  to  see  his  look  of 
mortification  as  he  slunk  away,  ashamed  of  having  com- 
mitted such  a  blunder. 

Having  attempted  in  vain  to  procure  a  law  passed  at 
town -meeting,  restraining  horses  from  being  free  com- 
moners,— this  Canadian  custom  being  even  yet  too  strong 
for  modern  innovation, — I  became  at  times  sufficiently 
exasperated  to  use  my  gun,  and  sting  the  robbers  with 
fine  shot.  One  day  I  was  going  to  the  woods,  my  gun 
loaded  by  chance  with  buckshot.  Finding  the  meadow 
full  of  ponies,  now  grown  so  prudent  as  to  keep  well  out 
of  range  of  dog  and  small  shot,  I  was  tempted  to  fire  at 
a  white  mare,  who  with  her  colt  was  a  chief  sinner. 
Both  were  touched  pretty  severely.  On  my  return  the 
colt  was  found  dead,  and  the  dam,  tamed  by  her  loss, 
stood  mourning  over  him,  and  permitted  my  approach. 
Though  I  had  convinced  myself  that  the  act  was  justi- 
fiable, on  witnessing  the  result  I  felt  it  to  be  cruel.  It 
was  indeed  piteous  to  witness  the  affection  of  the  mother, 
herself  wounded,  and  moaning  over  her  offspring.  I  felt 
the  pity  of  mutilating  these  fine  animals,  who  are  not  to 
blame  for  the  neglect  of  their  owners.  I  could  not  re- 
peat the  harsh  remedy. 

Early  one  January  morning,  I  found  my  farmer  driv- 
ing ponies  out  of  the  meadow,  and  resolved  to  secure 
some  of  them,  with  intent  to  advertise  and  claim  dam- 
ages.    This  was  no  easy  matter.     With  the  assistance  of 


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a  third  person  we  drove  them  into  a  smaller  enclosure, 
where  we  noosed  four  by  the  feet,  and  secured  them  with 
rope  halters.  One,  known  to  be  the  property  of  my  next 
neighbor,  was  turned  over  to  him.  Two  were  black 
mares,  and  had  to  be  halter-broken.  They  were  mastered 
after  some  obstinate  resistance.  The  remaining  one  was 
a  fine  young  horse,  full  of  fire  and  strength,  that  had 
never  felt  curb  or  halter.  It  may  be  supposed  that  he 
was  not  inclined  to  surrender.  Driving  him  close  to  the 
fence,  and  there  tying  him  by  his  noosed  foot,  we  con- 
trived to  fasten  a  rope  to  his  head.  With  these  double 
means  of  restraint,  four  persons  now  undertook  his  con- 
quest. His  eyes  flashed,  and  his  nostrils  dilated  with 
fear.  With  sudden  impulse  he  would  bound  almost 
away  from  our  grasp.  At  last,  exhausted  with  exertion 
and  terror,  he  was  dragged  to  the  stable. 

My  triumph  seemed  complete,  when  the  neighbor 
whose  property  I  had  suffered  to  escape  came  over  on  a 
tour  of  observation.  He  informed  me  that  the  spirited 
young  animal  was  his  property,  the  other  two  that  of 
another  French  neighbor.  Rubbing  up  the  long  hair, 
brands  were  discernible.  He  informed  me  further,  being 
himself  one  of  the  appraisers,  that  my  fence,  though  of 
extraordinary  height  and  strength,  did  not  conform,  in 
some  of  the  numerous  requirements,  to  the  fence  law. 
So,  fearful  of  a  flaw  in  my  case,  and  averse  to  altercation 
with  neighbors,  I  gave  the  captured  animals  release.  The 
remedial  project  consumed  the  day,  the  only  profit  being 
the  sport  which  the  occasion  afforded. 

Veto  at  length  came  to  a  violent  end.  After  recover- 
ing from  repeated  shot  wounds,  doubtless  revengefully 
inflicted,  he  at  last  succumbed,  under  the  combined 
effects  of  wounds  and  poison. 


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'*  Doters  upon  dogs  **  would  be  delighted  with  Medoc,  a 
dog  purchased  for  me  by  a  friend  at  Mackinac.  He  is  of 
the  breed  much  employed  by  the  French  at  that  place 
for  draught  purposes.  On  being  admitted  to  my  house- 
hold he  was  deaf  to  all  language  addressed  to  him  except 
French,  but  was  obedient  to  orders  delivered  in  the 
tongue  with  which  he  was  familiar.  A  wagon  and  har- 
ness had  been  constructed  with  which  he  goes  to  market, 
drawing  home  the  articles  purchased.  He  has  drawn  in 
this  way  a  barrel  of  flour  from  the  store.  When  the  load 
is  heavy  he  does  not  refuse  to  pull,  nor  become  cross  and 
sullen,  like  uneducated  dogs,  but  buckles  down  to  the 
task  like  a  well-bred  draught  horse,  pulling  stoutly  over 
the  hard  places,  and  doing  his  utmost.  He  is  of  medium 
size  only,  not  very  stoutly  built,  of  pure  white,  and  has  a 
tail  not  more  than  an  inch  long,  the  size  natural  to  that 

A  friend  of  mine  is  owner  of  a  dog  named  Dask,  noted 
not  only  for  his  precipitancy,  but  for  a  very  capacious 
mouth.  Of  this  open  feature  sundry  anecdotes  are 
related,  not  less  curious  than  true,  in  convincing  proof 
of  which  I  submit  the  following : 

This  capacious  mouth  was  twice  put  to  singular  use. 
A  mouse  had  taken  refuge  in  a  closet,  and  Dash  being 
called,  soon  cornered  the  varmint,  and  made  at  him  so 
fiercely,  with  distended  jaws,  that  the  poor  terrified  creat- 
ure, seeing  no  chance  of  escape,  or  mistaking  the  wide 
open  mouth  for  a  hole  of  refuge,  or  perhaps  resorting  to 
stratagem — if  we  may  credit  so  much  sagacity  to  a  sorry 
mouse — leaped  into  the  living  sepulchre.  Snap  went 
the  jaws:  the  prey  was  securely  entrapped.  But  those 
prison  doors  could  not  remain  long  shut,  and  when  they 


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again  opened,  the  mouse,  seizing  the  opportunity,  made 
good  his  escape. 

On  the  other  occasion  referred  to,  a  mouse  had  made 
his  way  into  the  store-chest  of  a  boat,  and  the  like  refuge 
presenting  itself,  it  leaped  in,  as  did  the  other.  But  on 
this  occasion  the  little  animal,  not  discovering  the  nature 
of  the  trap,  made  its  way  directly  down  the  dog's  throat. 
No  "  presto  change  '*  'ever  created  greater  astonishment 
than  did  this  sudden  annihilation.  Dash  was  not  equal 
to  the  solving  of  the  riddle,  and  his  look  of  bewilderment, 
as  he  sought  everywhere  for  the  vanished  game,  was  very- 

Another  instance  of  the  valuable  purpose  that  a  dog*s 
capacious  jaws  subserved  has  come  to  my  knowledge, 
although  it  did  not  occur  under  my  own  observation.  It 
was  told  me  on  the  best  authority,  and  is  a  striking  in- 
stance of  the  sagacity  and  devotion  to  his  master's  inter- 
ests of  the  faithful  animal  whose  actions  I  have  been 

A  family  in  C,  New  York  State,  kept  a  fine  mastiff  and 
a  canary  bird.  One  day  the  latter  escaped  from  its  cage, 
and,  the  window  being  open,  flew  out,  and  perched  upon 
a  shed  in  the  rear  of  the  house.  Every  effort  was  made 
by  members  of  the  family  to  secure  the  fugitive.  He 
would  not  be  caught,  nor  would  he  be  enticed  by  food  to 
enter  his  cage,  nor  by  the  artifice  of  a  trap-cage  and  bird. 
After  two  days*  useless  efforts,  the  attempt  was  aban- 
doned, and  the  bird  given  up  for  lost.  In  the  evening  of 
the  second  day,  as  the  master  was  seated  with  friends  in 
the  parlor,  the  dog  entered  and  approached  him.  By 
pressing  against  his  legs  he  induced  his  master  to  notice 
him.  The  latter  then  rose  from  his  seat,  the  dog  contin- 
uing his  demonstrations  by  leading    towards  the   door. 


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Seeing  that  the  animal  was  on  an  errand,  the  gentleman 
followed  into  another  room,  where  hung  the  empty  bird- 
cage, towards  which  the  dog  s  eyes  and  nose  were  directed. 
The  master  now  perceived,  for  the  first  time,  that  some- 
thing like  a  feather  was  sticking  out  of  a  corner  of  the 
creature's  mouth.  He  took  down  the  cage,  and  its  door 
and  the  dog's  mouth  being  opened  simultaneously,  out 
rushed  the  lost  canary,  from  its  new  prison  into  the  old 
one,  uttering  a  loud  and  gleeful  chirrup,  which  ended 
in  a  song  the  moment  it  reached  the  accustomed  perch. 

Before  bringing  this  dog  chat  to  an  end,  I  must  add  a  few 
parting  words  about  one  of  the  smallest  of  his  kind,  a 
little  dwarfed  specimen  of  a  black-and-tan  terrier,  named 
Pete.  We  used  to  call  him  Melancholy  Pete,  for  his 
misanthropic  look  and  cynical  disposition.  Pete  well  un- 
derstood his  position  as  pet  of  the  household,  and  con- 
sidered the  whole  dignity  of  the  family. centred  in  his 
single  small  person.  He  became  very  angry  when  any 
meanly  dressed  person  was  admitted  into  the  house,  and  if 
by  chance  such  person  came  into  the  parlor  his  offended 
dignity  drove  him  into  the  dark  corner,  from  which  he 
would  not  emerge  for  some  time  after  the  offending  vis- 
itor had  departed.  The  children  amused  themselves  with 
his  moroseness,  pointing  finger  and  making  faces  at  him, 
which  he  resented  with  much  surliness.  He  died  finally 
of  a  broken  heart,  caused  by  the  admission  of  another 
dog  of  the  same  species  as  a  pet  into  the  family.  Poor 
sensitive  Pete.  How  many  ambitious  lives,  like  thine, 
surrounded  with  every  luxury,  still  fail  of  happiness ! 

After  these  "  desultory  dottings  down  upon  dogs,'*  you 
may  be  pleased  with  a  few  "  cursory  cogitations  concern- 
ing cats." 

I  have  to  relate  a  singular  incident  illustrative  of  strong 


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natural  affection  in  this  much  slandered  animal.  I  must 
premise  that  at  the  time  of  the  introduction  of  Medoc 
into  the  household,  my  domestic  establishment  was 
graced  by  two  feline  pets :  Nora,  2^  fine  Angora  cat,  and 
her  son  Jose. 

Medoc's  disposition  was  by  no  means  savage,  but  rather 
peaceable  ;  but  he  could  resent  indignity.  Nora,  on  the 
contrary,  was  fiercely  hostile  to  the  whole  canine  race, 
and  would  consent  to  no  familiarity  with  them.  Hith- 
erto she  had  always  succeeded  in  keeping  every  dog 
at  a  distance,  and  she  commenced  immediate  war  upon 
Medoc.  His  dogship  at  first  submitted  to  her  unfriendly- 
demonstrations  with  exemplary  patience,  the  only  sign 
of  resentment  being  a  growl.  Nora  was  implacable,  and 
on  a  second  occasion,  when  he  entered  her  presence,  fle^v 
at  his  face  with  her  sharp  claws.  The  dog,  a  little 
aroused,  but  still  generous,  seized  her  by  the  neck,  and 
administered  a  gentle  shake,  by  way  of  reproof.  A  third 
time  puss  repeated  her  offensive  conduct,  flying  in  his 
face,  with  the  added  insult  of  hissing  and  spitting  at  him. 
This  was  more  than  his  wounded  dignity  could  bear. 
"  Three  times  and  out  **  was  Medoc*s  motto.  He  seized 
her  in  his  strong  jaws,  but  this  time  by  the  spine,  and 
my  beautiful  Angora  was  dead  in  an  instant. 

Nora  had  shown  great  partiality  to  her  son  Jose,  con- 
senting for  his  sake,  I  believe,  to  the  death  of  a  recent  * 
litter,  in  order  that  her  favorite  of  a  year  old  might  con- 
tinue to  nurse.  Jose  showed  equal  fondness.  A  grave 
was  dug  for  the  dead  mother  in  the  yard,  where  she  was 
deposited  with  befitting  solemnities,  the  kitten  watching 
the  proceeding.  Jose  then  took  possession  of  the  grave, 
which  no  persuasion  could  induce  him  to  quit.  He  re- 
fused all  sustenance,  was  often  seen  scratching  the  earth, 


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and  was  at  length  found  dead  upon  the  body  of  his 
mother, — an  example  of  filial  love  very  rare,  and  sur- 
passing even  that  of  a  parent  for  its  offspring. 

I  was  afterwards  possessor  of  a  feline  of  the  sterner  sex, 
a  fine  large  animal  of  pure  white,  who  became  a  great 
favorite,  and  who  was  equally  attached  to  me.  He  al- 
ways came  into  the  parlor  to  be  petted  or  lie  at  my  feet, 
when  he  heard  my  footsteps  in  the  house,  after  out-door 
labor  was  over.  During  my  temporary  absences  of  sev- 
eral days,  he  would  seize  the  occasion  to  absent  himself 
on  hunting  expeditions,  after  ascertaining  that  I  was  not 
in  the  parlor  at  the  usual  time,  but  he  always  returned 
to  greet  me  when  I  came  back. 

Tom  would  perform  a  number  of  tricks  at  my  mandate, 
such  as  jumping  through  my  arms,  or  over  my  head,  and 
these  he  would  do  for  no  one  else.  One  of  his  tricks  was 
to  feign  death. .  At  the  word  "  die "  he  would  lie  per- 
fectly still,  and  suffer  himself  to  be  lifted  and  carried 
about,  like  a  defunct,  for  the  amusement  of  the  company. 

This  cat  had  a  brother  of  the  same  breed,  and  both 
were  trained  hunters.  Tom  and  Jerry  usually  hunted  in 
couples.  Stealing  forth  together,  one  would  tree  the 
game,  or  keep  it  at  bay,  while  the  other  **  went  in  **  and 
secured  it.  This  proceeding  they  would  change  about, 
so  as  to  give  each  an  equal  opportunity  of  indulging  in 
the  pleasanter  part  of  the  performance. 

Poor  Tom  died  of  an  asthma.  He  was  accustomed  to 
be  fed  by  one  of  the  ladies  of  the  family,  to  whom,  next 
after  myself,  he  was  most  attached.  During  his  sickness 
he  slept  in  her  room,  upon  a  bed  prepared  for  him,  and 
she  alone  administered  his  medicines.  One  day  his  nurse 
discovered  him  lying  upon  her  own  bed,  and  scolded  him 
somewhat  sharply.     Tom  immediately  left  her  room,  turn- 


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ing  at  the  door  and  hissing,  and  would  never  again  be 
induced  to  return,  nor  would  he,  in  his  peevish  resent- 
ment, permit  any  further  acts  of  kindness  on  the  part  of 
his  former  friend.  He  retired  to  a  lonely  room,  where  a 
few  days  afterwards  he  Was  found  dead.  Alas  !  loving, 
but  too  sensitive  Tom ! 

Domestic  animals — the  dog,  for  instance — often  exhibit 
a  horror  of  music,  but  I  can  testify  to  a  contrary  taste  in 
a  cat. 

My  family  had  been  frequently  awakened  in  the  night 
by  the  tones  of  a  piano  in  measured  cadence  sounding, 
sometimes  passing  through  all  the  notes  of  the  gamut, 
from  bass  to  treble.  It  was  some  time  before  this  musical 
ghost  was  laid.  This  was  effected  by  the  discovery  that 
the  piano  was  sometimes  carelessly  left  open,  after  the 
evening  hymn,  and  that  on  these  occasions  puss  improved 
her  opportunity  for  practising.  She  did  so  by  walking 
forwards  and  backwards  over  the  keys,  evidently  greatly- 
relishing  the  harmony, 

**  In  linked  sweetness  long  drawn  out." 

Powers  of  fascination  have  been  ascribed  to  the  cat,  in 
common  with  the  snake,  but  the  fact  has  been  disputed. 
I  was  witness  to  an  occurrence  which  seemed  to  me  con- 
firmatory of  its  truth. 

Sitting  under  my  porch  one  day,  my  attention  was 
attracted  by  an  incessant  chirping.  I  soon  discovered  a 
small  bird,  hopping  continually  from  branch  to  branch  of 
a  tree,  ten  feet  or  more  from  the  ground.  Casting  my 
eyes  below  they  fell  upon  my  domestic  tabby,  sitting 
composedly  on  the  grass,  and  apparently  not  noticing 
the  bird.  I  could  not  determine  whether  or  not  the  chirp 
was  a  cry  of  distress,  but  the  poor  little  bird  seemed  to 
be  under  some  spell,  for  each  time  he  hopped  lower,  and 


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still  lower,  and  at  last  down  to  the  ground.  In  an  in- 
stant puss  sprang  and  seized  upon  the  prize  thus  offered 
up,  a  voluntary  victim. 

Doubtless  you,  in  common  with  many  of  my  friends, 
some  of  whom  I  know  to  be  lovers  of  pets,  can  relate 
anecdotes  quite  as  curious  as  any  of  these.  I  record  them 
as  among  the  treasured  recollections  of  early  and  happy 
days,  amid  quiet  enjoyments  and  in  rural  pleasures 

Your  true  friend. 


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"  When  we  discovered  this  vast  continent  it  was  full  of  wild  beasts.  A 
handful  of  Frenchmen  has  made  them  almost  entirely  disappear  in  less  than 
an  age,  and  there  are  some  the  species  of  which  is  entirely  destroyed.  They 
killed  the  elks  and  moose-deer  merely  for  the  pleasure  of  killing  them,  and 
to  show  their  dexterity." — Charlevoix,  1721. 


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TO  render  this  subject  more  complete,  I  append  to 
the  foregoing  letters  some  later  and  more  syste- 
matic observations. 

The  diversity  of  climate  of  the  'United  States  affords  to 
mammalian  life  a  large  range,  compared  with  Europe. 
And  in  this  respect  no  portion  of  our  country  of  equal 
extent  is  more  favorable  than  our  peninsulas  of  mingled 
prairie,  oak-openings  and  timbered  lands,  and  giving  the 
advantages  of  a  softened  lake  climate  on  the  south,  with 
that  of  a  more  cold  and  broken  country  on  the  north. 

Our  existing  mammalia  include  only  three  orders. 
Rapaciuy  Rodentia  and  Ruminantiay  unless  we  may  claim 
a  Marsupial — the  Opossum.  This  animal,  I  have  been  in- 
formed, once  existed  in  or  not  far  from  this  neighborhood, 
but  I  will  not  vouch  for  the  fact. 

With  all  our  vast  extent  of  sea-like  waters,  neither  any 
of  the  whale  kind  (Cetacce)  nor  of  the  seal  kind  (Pkocidce) 
visit  our  fresh-water  seas. 

Among  the  Carnivora,  or  Rapacia,  in  the  family  Ves- 
pertilionidce,  we  have  several  species  of  Bats.  But,  ex- 
cepting the  common  bat  {Vespertilio  novaboracensis)  and 
the  little  brown  bat  (F".  siibulatus)  I  am  not  familiar  with 

The  family  Sorecidce,  or  Shrews,  which  belongs  both  to 
the  Old  World  and  the  New,  has  two  species  in  Michigan, 
of  the  genus  Sorex, — 5.  platyrhinus  and  5.  talpoides. 

The  Moles,  family  Talpidce,  abound  in  every  part  of 



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North  America.  In  our  State,  in  genus  Scalops,  are  the 
prairie  mole  (5.  argentatus)  and  the  common  mole  (S. 
aquaticus)y  that  so  persistently  burrows  beneath  the  sod 
and  the  walks,  in  pursuit  of  worms.  Genus  Condylura 
includes  the  star-nosed  mole  (C  cristata\  which  is  more 
rare.  ^ 

Of  the  family  Ursidce  Michigan  has,  in  common  with 
the  northern  portion  of  the  Union,  the  Black  Bear,  Ra- 
coon, Badger,  and  Wolverene;  though  these  have  all 
nearly  disappeared  from  this  neighborhood. 

That  bears  had  not  all  been  exterminated  from  this 
part  of  the  State  down  to  a  recent  date  is  apparent  from 
an  item  which  appeared  in  the  Detroit  Free  Press,  in 

A  resident  of  Springwells,  named  Tyrell,  brought  into 
the  city  the  skin  of  a  bear,  shot  near  Algonac»  on  St.  Clair 
River,  where  he  had  been  hunting,  about  which  he  had  a 
story  to  tell. 

Just  at  dark  he  had  traced  the  animal  into  a  swamp, 
but  concluded  to  wait  until  morning  before  coming  to 
close  quarters.  He  had  just  made  his  way  to  dry  land 
when  two  bears  appeared  on  the  ridge,  two  rods  in  front 
of  him.  Levelling  his  rifle  he  fired,  and  the  next  moment 
both  animals  were  coming  down  upon  him  at  full  speed. 
There  was  no  time  for  reloading.  The  hunter  dropped 
his  gun,  and  made  for  a  scrub-oak,  which  he  reached 
barely  in  time  to  swing  himself  by  a  limb  out  of  reach. 
He  worked  his  way  through  the  thick  branches,  as  high  as 
the  tree  would  bear  him,  about  fifteen  feet,  and  through 
the  gloom  could  discern  the  bears  snuffing  at  the  base. 
One  of  them  was  not  long  in  attempting  a  closer  acquaint- 
ance, but  on  getting  up  half  the  distance  to  the  hunter 
found  his  way  impeded  by  the  thick  limbs,  and  dropped 


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to  the  ground.  Repeating  his  efforts,  the  hunter  struck 
a  match  and  dropped  it  on  bruin's  head,  which  frighted 
him  back  again.  This  trick  was  repeated  at  every  fresh 
attempt  of  the  animal  to  climb  the  tree,  and  was  every 
time  successful. 

The  animals  ceased  their  efforts  to  climb,  but  remained 
so  long  pacing  and  growling  around,  that  Tyrell  did  not 
dare  to  come  down,  but  remained  the  entire  night  in  his 
perilous  and  uncomfortable  position,  battling  with  the 
sleepy  god.  He  says  he  would  rather  ride  from  Detroit 
to  Buffalo,  astride  the  walking-beam  of  a  steam-boat,  than 
do  it  again.  When,  stiff  and  sore,  the  next  morning  he 
ventured  down,  the  welcome  sight  met  his  eye,  of  a  bear 
lying  dead,  the  blood  on  ground  and  leaves  showing  that 
he  had  bled  to  death.  His  companion  was  not  visible. 
The  hide  was  on  exhibition  for  some  time  at  the  Central 

The  Wolverene  (Gulo  luscus\  belonging  to  the  family 
Mustelidce,  is  now  very  rarely  found.  Michigan  is  about 
its  southern  limit.  As  this  almost  extinct  animal  has 
given  to  our  State  its  slang  name,  some  interest  attaches 
to  it  which  it  would  not  otherwise  possess.  From  his 
resemblance  to  the  bear  this  animal  has  been  placed  by 
some  authorities  among  the  Ursidce, 

Having  given  some  description  of  the  wolverene  in  a 
preceding  letter,  I  will  only  now  add  that  considering  his 
mischievous  and  destructive  disposition,  he  looks  quite 
meek.  The  head  is  almost  sheep-like.  Are  we  to  infer 
that  the  people  of  the  Wolverene  State  are  very  lamb-like 
to  outward  appearance,  but  very  dangerous  to  meddle 

In  the  same  family  we  possess  the  Skunk,  Mink,  Mar- 
ten, Fisher,  and  Weasel.     I    am  not   sure  whether  the 


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American  Sable  {Mustela  martes)  exists  within  our  bor- 
ders, but  it  is  presumable  that  it  once   did  so,  its  habitat  * 
being  the  wooded  districts  of  this  zone.     It  is  a  beautiful 
animal,  and  its  extermination  is  due  to  the  qualities  of  its 
fur,  which  is  very  highly  valued. 

Of  the  family  Lutidce,  our  northern  waters  still  retain 
that  sagacious  animal,  the  Otter  {Lutra  Canadensis).  Its 
fur,  once  valued  next  to  that  of  the  beaver,  is  now  rare. 

Some  years  ago  Mr.  L.  B.  Smith,  of  Detroit,  purchased 
in  Gratiot  Co.  a  tame  otter,  of  which  I  copy  the  following 
notice;  *'  He  was  captured  by  an  Indian  when  only  about 
a  week  old,  and  has  become  as  tame  as  a  house-cat.  He 
is  of  dark  brown  color,  two  feet  in  length  from  his  nose  to 
the  tip  of  his  tail,  and  lives  principally  on  bread-and-milk 
and  fresh  meat,  but  whenever  opportunity  is  given  will 
catch  fish,  of  which  he  is  extremely  fond.  When  sleep- 
ing (which  he  does  the  greater  portion  of  the  day),  he  lies 
curled  up,  with  his  tail  between  his  fore  paws  and  the  ex- 
treme end  in  his  mouth.  The  odd  little  creature  has 
always  exhibited  a  remarkable  fondness  for  babies,  and 
whenever  brought  into  the  presence  of  one  is  restless  "S^nd 
intractable  until  permitted  to  fondle  it,  and  no  amount 
of  coaxing  can  induce  him  to  quit  its  presence.  When 
grieved  he  sets  up  a  shrill  piping,  not  unlike  that  of  a 
young  chicken,  but  when  particularly  delighted  emits  a 
cachinatory  sound,  closely  resembling  the  laugh  of  a  hu 
man  being.  He  has  been  taught  to  follow  his  master, 
and  to  perform  several  interesting  tricks.*' 

Of  the  Canidce,  or  Dog.  family,  are  still  found  within 
the  State  the  Wolf,  gray  and  white  {Canis  occidentalism 
— though  in  greatly  reduced  numbers, — also  the  black 
or  dusky  wolf,  though  the   latter  is  very  rare;  we  have 


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also  the  common  or  Red  Fox  {Vulpes  fulvus)^  and  the 
Silver-gray  Fox, — a  rare  variety. 

The  Detroit  papers  in  1871  gave  accounts  of  the  ex- 
ploits of  three  Detroit  hunters  in  the  woods  of  Northern 
Michigan,  bringing  into  town  from  Gladwin  County 
among  their  trophies  seventy-five  wolf  skins.  These  they 
captured  by  means  of  a  wolf  trap  on  a  wholesale  scale. 
It  consisted  of  a  two-story  cabin,  in  the  lower  story  of 
which,  on  two  sides,  were  large  doors,  so  constructed  as 
to  be  drawn  up  and  let  down  at  the  will  of  those  above. 
For  bait,  old  broken-down  horses  were  used,  as  this  kind 
of  varmint  likes  its  prey  living. 

When  several  wolves  were  thus  decoyed  into  the 
house,  the  doors  were  let  down  and  they  were  entrapped. 
Then  by  taking  up  a  board  in  the  floor  the  hunters  were 
enabled  to  shoot  the  imprisoned  animals.  When  this 
trick  failed,  a  horse  was  tied  to  a  tree  in  the  woods,  where 
the  wolves,  on  coming  to  their  prey,  were  exposed  to  their 
ambushed  enemies.  Generally  one  horse  stood  for  eight 
wolves,  before  the  poor  beast  finally  gave  up  the  ghost. 

The  Free  Press  of  the  previous  year  tells  the  story  of  a 
Canadian  family  coming  to  this  city  from  Ottawa,  and 
having  in  lieu  of  the  family  mastiff  a  large  gray  wolf. 
He  was  only  half  civilized,  and  so  cross  as  to  call  for  fre- 
quent beating  from  his  owner.  Whether  or  not  this  was 
the  best  way  to  civilize  him  may  be  doubted. 

Belonging  to  the  idLmWy  Felidce  is  the  Panther  {Feliscon- 
color),  under  its  various  names  of  Cougar,  American  lion 
and  Catamount.  It  is  common  to  the  whole  of  North 
America.  In  spite  of  its  size,  which  exceeds  that  of 
the  largest  dog,  and  its  big  appellations,  it  is  not  at  all 
a  ferocious  animal.  The  Lynx  (i^  lyncus)  is  also  a 
timid  animal. 


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Not  SO  the  Wild-cat  {F.  rufus),  which  is  a  hard  and 
bold  fighter,  and  an  annoying  depredator. 

I  give,  again  from  the  Free  Press  of  1871,  the  following 
account  of  a  fight  with  wild-cats,  which  happened  in 
Wayne  County : 

George  B.  Morris  had  on  exhibition  (Aug.  31,  1 871)  at 
the  Campus  Martius  the  paws  of  two  wild-cats,  and 
stated  that  he  and  two  other  farmers  had  a  very  exciting 
time  in  making  their  capture. 

For  three  or  four  months  farmers  living  in  Brownstown 
and  Huron  townships  had  been  very  much  annoyed  by 
the  two  animals,  who  inhabited  a  swamp,  or  at  least 
made  it  a  place  of  refuge.  The  beasts  had  created  consid- 
erable havoc  among  young  lambs  and  sheep,  and  had  been 
pursued  many  times  by  hunters,  but  always  made  their 
escape  into  the  swamp.  One  evening,  while  a  farmer 
named  Mead  was  at  the  barn,  one  of  the  cats  had  the 
audacity  to  enter  a  hen-coop,  not  twenty  feet  from  the 
door,  and  was  not  driven  from  her  prey  until  Mead  had 
wounded  her  with  a  pitchfork.  Securing  Morris  and 
another  neighbor,  the  three  cleaned  up  their  guns,  and 
determined  to  devote  a  day  to  hunting  down  the  trouble- 
some visitant.  They  were  under  the  impression  at  the 
time  that  it  was  a  half-grown  panther.  Mead  having 
never  seen  a  wild-cat.  At  daylight  the  men  mounted 
their  horses,  and  rode  to  the  swamp,  having  each  a  dog 
along.  For  several  hours  they  beat  about  the  place, 
without  discovering  any  signs.  At  length  one  of  the 
dogs,  which  had  been  prospecting  in  the  swamp,  set  up  a 
fearful  yelling  and  howling,  and  came  to  the  men  with 
his  back  well  scratched  up.  The  other  dogs  made  for  the 
spot,  and  drove  the  cat  out  of  the  swamp,  and  up  a  tree, 
where  she  was   despatched  by  a  rifle  shot.     The  farmers 


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RODENTS,  ^5^ 

had  no  idea  of  the  presence  of  another.  They  were 
seated  under  a  tree,  enjoying  a  cold  bite,  when  a  male 
cat,  considerably  larger  than  the  one  slain,  came  out  of 
the  swamp,  and  attacked  a  dog,  which  was  lapping  water 
at  a  small  pond.  In  a  second,  hair  was  flying  like  thistle- 
down in  a  gale,  and  the  other  dogs  joined  in.  In  two 
minutes,  and  while  the  men  were  picking  up  their  guns 
and  running  to  the  spot,  one  of  the  dogs  was  disabled  by 
the  cat,  and  the  other  two  refused  to  close  in  again,  run- 
ning around  in  a  circle.  As  the  men  came  up  the  cat 
leaped  for  Mead,  fastening  to  his  leg,  and  the  sudden  at- 
tack threw  him  down.  He  tried  to  shoot  but  could  not, 
and  for  some  time  his  friends  found  no  safe  opportunity. 
At  length  one  of  them  knocked  the  beast  over  with  his  gun 
and  then  shot  him  through,  as  he  was  returning  to  the 
attack.  After  receiving  the  shot  he  was  still  a  match  for 
both  dogs,  until  shot  through  the  head.  The  brute  which 
attacked  Mead  tore  his  boot-leg  into  strips  with  his  hind 
claws,  and  he  was  so  bitten  and  clawed  about  the  legs  as 
to  be  unable  to  work  for  some  time.  It  would  have  been 
more  than  a  match  for  him  alone. 

Of  the  Rodentia,  many  little  animals  of  the  squirrel 
tribe — family  Sciuridce — abound  in  Michigan.  Among 
the  number  are  the  Fox  Squirrel  {Sciurus  cinerius),  the 
Gray — often  nearly  black — (5.  migratorius),  the  Red  or 
Chickaree  (S.  Hudsonius),  the  Striped  or  Chipmuck 
{Tamias  striatus),  the  Flying  Squirrel  {Pteromys  volucelld), 
and  the  striped  Gopher  {Spermophilus  tridecemlineatus), 
I  do  not  remember  having  seen  the  latter  in  this  neigh- 
borhood, but  in  great  numbers  on  the  prairies  and  open- 
ings in  the  south  and  west  parts  of  the  State. 

The  little  red  squirrel  has  a  wide  range,  and  is  a 
migrant,  sometimes  marching  in  large  bodies,  and  swim- 


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ming  the  streams.  I  remember  hearing,  many  years  ago, 
of  a  large  migrating  band,  which  swam  the  Niagara,  from 
Canada  into  the  State  of  New  York,  many  perishing  in 
the  transit.  The  object,  of  course,  is  larger  supplies  of 
food,  but  the  instinct  is  a  curious  one. 

A  gentleman  told  me  he  was  once  on  Lake  George,  in 
the  State  of  New  York,  rowing  alone  in  a  boat,  when  he 
espied  a  squirrel  paddling  his  way  towards  shore.  The 
rower  held  out  an  oar,  which  the  little  fellow  accepted, 
ran  up  it  and  the  arm  which  held  it,  and  sat  on  his 
shoulder.  From  this  position  he  soon  decamped  to  the 
bow  of  the  boat,  where  he  remained  some  time.  At 
length,  thinking  himself  sufficiently  rested,  he  again  took 
to  the  water,  but  finding  he  had  miscalculated  his 
strength,  he  a  second  time  accepted  the  proffered  aid, 
and  remained  in  the  boat  until  it  neared  the  land,  when 
he  sprang  ashore  and  made  off. 

In  the  family  Arctomidce,  the  Woodchuck,  Ground-hog, 
or  Marmot,  as  it  is  differently  called,  is  the  only  burrow- 
ing and  hibernating  animal  which  I  recall.  It  was  for- 
merly numerous  hereabouts. 

In  the  family  Garbilhdce^  we  have  the  Deer-mouse, 
{Mir one  Americana) ;  in  the  Castoridce,  the  Beaver  {Cas- 
tor Canadensis)^  of  which  I  propose  to  give  some  ex- 
tended notice,  in  a  separate  paper. 

I  will  here  mention  that  a  gigantic  fossil  species  of  the 
beaver,  several  times  the  size  of  C.  Canadensis,  has  been 
discovered  in  New  York  and  Michigan,  in  lacustrine  de- 

To  the  family  of  the  Hystricidce  belongs  the  Porcu- 
pine, an  inoffensive  creature,  common  in  all  the  Northern 
States,  and  very  easily  captured,  as  he  makes  no  resist- 
ance.    I  have  killed  one  that  appeared  in  my  path  by 


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striking  him  with  my  geological  hammer.  The  spines 
are  much  used  by  the  northern  Indians,  for  ornament- 
ing a  variety  of  articles  manufactured  by  them,  for  which 
purposes  they  stain  them  permanently  with  several  bright 

The  family  Muridce  includes  that  pest,  the  Rat,  several 
species  of  which,  including  the  large  wharf  or  Norway 
rat,  were  introduced  into  this  country,  that  has  opened  so 
wide  its  gates  to  all  the  world,  good  and  bad. 

The  black  rat  I  have  never  seen,  and  am  not  aware 
that  it  is  an  inhabitant  here.  The  common  mouse  (Mus 
musculus)  is  also  an  immigrant,  but  there  are  several 
others  that  are  native,  as  the  Jumping  Mouse,  the  Beaver 
Mouse,  the  small  prairie,  or  oak-opening  mouse  {Hesper- 
omys  Michigantensis)y  and  two  species  of  Arvicola,  or 
field  mice. 

To  this  family  also  belongs  the  Muskrat  or  Musquash 
{Fiber  zibethicus).  This  animal  is  still  numerous  in  the 
marshes  of  the  Rouge  and  elsewhere,  but  much  less  so 
than  formerly.     Its  range  is  as  wide  as  that  of  the  beaver. 

One  other  family  only  belonging  to  this  order,  viz..  La- 
ponid<2y  is  known  to  me,  but  it  is  a  very  common  one. 
It  includes  the  American  Gray  Rabbit  {Lepus  manus)^  also 
the  White  Rabbit  or  Northern  Hdire {L.  Americantis),  found 
in  the  Northern  States  only.  Though  known  in  common 
parlance  as  rabbits,  these  are  truly  hares,  and  differ  es- 
sentially from  the  European  rabbit.  The  latter  is  a 
gregarious  animal,  inhabiting  warrens.  Our  hares  do 
not  burrow,  but  hide  under  brush  or  long  grass,  where 
they  make  what  are  called  "forms.** 

Before  proceeding  to  a  mention  of  our  existing  native 
animals  belonging  to    the  order    Ruminantia,  or  those 


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possessing  more  than  two  hoofs,  I  will  refer  to  the  ex- 
tinct animals,  belonging  to  the  Pachydermata. 

The  genus  Elephas  includes  the  fossil  elephant  {E. 
primigenius),  whose  molars  are  found  in  the  Salt  Licks 
of  Kentucky ;  none  in  this  State  that  I  know  of.  The 
teeth  and  bones  of  a  similar  quadruped,  the  Mastodon 
{E.  maximus\  have  been  discovered  in  this  State,  both  in 
the  eastern  and  western  counties.  Though  fossil,  it  be- 
longs to  a  recent  geological  period, — the  drift,  or  glacial, 
— and  it  was  possibly  contemporaneous  with  savage  man. 
Manufactured  arrow-heads  are  said  to  have  been  found 
beneath  the  skeleton  of  a  mastodon,  in  Missouri.  I 
know  of  no  complete  skeleton  in  this  State,  that  has  been 

It  is  probable  that  the  Bison  or  Buffalo  was  a  former 
inhabitant  here.  For  it  is  matter  of  proof  that  they  once 
roamed  as  far  as  the  Atlantic  coast,  south  of  the  lakes. 
None  now  exist  east  of  the  Mississippi,  and,  immense  as 
their  numbers  were  but  a  few  years  ago  on  our  west- 
ern plains,  so  great  and  wanton  is  the  destruction  that 
they  are  likely  to  suffer  extinction,  even  within  the  life 
of  the  present  generation. 

The  family  Cervidce  includes  the  American  deer,  com- 
mon from  Canada  to  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  and  from  the 
Atlantic  to  the  Rocky  Mountains.  Yet  it  was  not  known 
in  our  upper  peninsula,  on  Lake  Superior,  as  late  as 
1840,  nor  until  driven  northward  by  the  persecution  of 

The  American  elk  {Cervus  Canadensis),  known  also 
as  the  Wapiti,  was  once  very  numerous  in  this  State,  but 
is  fast  being  killed,  and  is  already  very  rare.  It  is  a 
noble  animal,  and  quite  easy  of  domestication,  as  the 
incident  alluded  to    in  the  foregoing  letter  is  in  proof. 


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It  measures  from  seven  to  ten  feet  in  length,  and  six  feet 
in  height.  According  to  Audubon,  the  American  elk  is  a 
foot  higher  in  the  shoulders  than  the  European  stag. 
The  antlers  are  wondrously  large,  each  main  branch 
often  three  feet  long.  A  specimen  of  the  animal  in  the 
museum  of  the  Detroit  Scientific  Association  is  seven 
feet  in  length,  and  the  tail  ridiculously  small,  only  two 
and  one-half  inches  long.  The  antlers  of  this  specimen 
have  a  spread,  from  tip  to  tip,  of  four  and  one-half  feet. 
The  color  on  the  sides  is  a  light  gray,  nearly  white, 
but  on  neck,  belly  and  extremities  a  dark  tawny  red. 
The  tail  of  the  deer  is  much  larger,  and  is  beneath  of 
a  pure  white,  which  is  always  exhibited  when  they  are 
on  the  run. 

The  fine  elk  above  alluded  to  is  the  property  of  the 
Audubon  Club,  of  Detroit.  It  was  presented  to  the 
club  by  General  Custer,  who  shot  it  on  the  Yellowstone 
in  1873,  and  prepared  the  skin  with  his  own  hands. 

In  a  letter  to  his  wife,  speaking  of  several  heads  of 
antelopes  and  other  wild  animals  which  he  had  pre- 
pared, the  General  says :  "  The  ne  plus  ultra  of  all  is 
the  *  King  of  the  Forest.'  I  have  succeeded  in  preserving 
him  entire, — antlers,  head,  neck,  body,  legs  and  hoofs, — 
in  fine  condition,  so  that  he  can  be  mounted,  and  look 
exactly  as  in  life.  The  scientists  .informed  me  that  there 
were  but  few  specimens  on  this  continent  of  elk  preserved 
entire,  and  none  so  fine  as  mine.  Had  I  saved  the  head 
and  neck  only,  it  was  intended  for  you  ;  but  having  it 
complete  alters  my  intention,  as  it  would  require  a  room 
to  contain  it.  So  I  have  concluded,  with  your  approval, 
to  present  it  to  the  Audubon  Club,  in  Detroit." 

Another  singular  animal  belonging  to  this  order, 
and  of  the  same  genus  with  the  deer,   and  a  native  of 


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this  State,  is  now  nearly  if  not  quite  exterminated — the 
Moose  {Alee  Amerieanus).  It  is  very  wary,  and  is  sel- 
dom caught  sight  of  except  by  professional  hunters. 
In  size  it  exceeds  the  elk.  The  antlers  are  quite  differ- 
ent, being  palmated.  They  spread  four  feet,  and  the 
palm  has  been  know  to  be  thirty  inches  wide.  The 
tongue  used  to  be  considered  as  great  a  delicacy  as 
beaver's  tail. 

The  Portage-Lake  Gazette^  of  April,  1869,  contains  an 
item,  headed,  "  Killing  of  the  last  Moose  in  Michigan," 
which  I  transfer  in  full. 

"In  the  year  1847  there  was  a  famous  herd  of  wild 
moose  living  in  the  woods  around  the  head  of  L'Anse  Bay, 
but  finally  the  herd  were  entrapped  and  all  killed  except 
one  old  leader  stag,  who  broke  away.  For  a  year  or  two 
nothing  was  seen  of  him,  but  finally  there  came  rumor 
of  a  gigantic  moose,  roaming  the  woods  around  the  head 
of  Torch  Lake.  This  winter  some  Indians  determined  to 
catch  him,  and  finding  his  track,  gave  him  several  lively 
chases,  but  until  a  week  ago  he  always  escaped.  Then  a 
half-breed,  Peter  Marksman,  got  after  him,  and  there  being 
a  thick  crust  on  the  snow,  the  man  could  move  about 
easily,  while  the  sharp  hoofs  of  the  veteran  moose  broke 
through  at  every  leap.  Peter  finally  overtook  him  near 
Calumet  Mihe,  and  quickly  closed  his  career  with  a  rifle 
ball.  He  skinned  him,  cut  up  the  flesh,  brought  it  to 
town,  and  found  a  ready  sale  at  fifty  cents  a  pound,  real- 
izing over  $300.  The  head  was  cut  off  and  brought  in. 
It  alone  gives  token  of  the  monstrous  size  of  the  animal. 
It  measures  33  inches  from  tip  of  nose  to  crown  of  head, 
between  the  antlers.  The  nose  measured  28  inches 
around.  The  nostrils,  distended,  each  measured  four 
inches  diameter,  and  a  large  hand   could  be  pushed  up 


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intp  them  over  a  foot !  The  front  of  the  under  jaw  has 
eight  large  cutting  teeth,  which  bit  against  a  tough  semi- 
homy,  pad  in  the  upper  jaw,  which  has  no  cutting  teeth. 
The  head  cut  off  entirely  from  the  neck,  and  minus  the 
tongue,  weighs  78  pounds.  Unfortunately  it  was  killed 
at  the  season  of  the  year  when  the  head  is  shorn  of  its 
greatest  beauty — the  enormous  antlers.  The  new  ones 
were  just  rising,  still  encased  in  the  skin,  only  making 
protuberances  of  four  or  five  inches.** 

One  other  Ungulate — the  Caribou  of  the  early  French 
settlers — {Rangifer  caribou)  was  at  one  time  an  inhtib- 
itant  of  the  northern  portion  of  our  State,  but  is  now 
quite  extinguished  within  our  limits.  It  still  exists 
north  of  Lake  Superior. 

In  a  paper  read  before  the  Detroit  Pioneer  Society, 
in  1874,  by  J.  S.  Tibbets,  on  wild  animals  of  Wayne 
County,  I  find  mentioned,  as  those  mostly  found  here  by 
the  early  settlers,  the  deer,  bear,  wolf,  lynx,  wild-cat, 
coon,  badger,  fisher,  porcupine,  woodchuck,  rabbit, 
mink  and  weasel.  He  says  the  skunk  and  rat  did  not 
make  their  appearance  in  the  rural  districts  for  nearly  ten 
years  after  the  first  settlements  were  made  ;  wolves  and 
bears  were  very  numerous,  and  destructive  to  the  few 
sheep  and  swine  then  in  the  country.  He  names  as  old 
residents  now  exterminated  the  lynx,  badger  and  por- 

Mr.  Tibbets  mentions  several  methods  then  in  vogue 
of  trapping  those  destructive  animals,  wolves  and  bears. 
They  were  caught  in  traps  and  in  dead-falls.  A  large  pen 
was  made  with  poles,  and  so  constructed  that  it  was  nar- 
rowed up  at  the  top,  leaving  an  opening  only  a  few  feet 
square.  This  afforded  an  easy  ingress  for  the  hungry 
wolf,  but  an  effectual  barrier  to  his  getting  out. 


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A  novel  mode  of  trapping  the  bear  proved  quite  suc- 
cessful. A  hollow  tree  was  selected,  into  which  a  hole 
was  cut,  some  seven  or  eight  feet  from  the  ground,  of  a 
triangular  shape,  with  the  acute  angle  on  the  lower  side, 
just  large  enough  for  bruin  to  squeeze  his  head  through. 
Inside  of  the  tree,  a  little  below  the  hole,  a  piece  of  meat 
was  suspended.  Scenting  the  meat  the  bear  would  climb 
the  tree,  and  in  his  efforts  to  reach  the  bait  would  get 
caught  in  the  angle  of  the  hole,  from  which  it  was  impos- 
sible to  extricate  himself. 

Many  interesting  facts  might  be  introduced  regarding 
the  Trade  in  Furs  of  the  animals  of  this  country.  But 
in  view  of  the  fact  that  these  have  now  to  be  sought  at 
a  great  distance, — the  business  of  the  trapper  being  at 
this  time  far  removed  from  this  vicinity, — I  forbear  to  ex- 
tend these  observations. 

I  cannot,  however,  omit  to  state  that  Detroit,  from  its 
very  first  settlement,  in  1701,  has  been  one  of  the  most 
noted  markets  for  the  collecting  and  sale  of  furs  in  the 
whole  country.  The  Abbotts,  Conants,  Macks,  Brew- 
sters  and  Campaus,  of  half  a  century  ago  and  more, 
are  still  well  represented  by  modern  dealers.  One  firm 
in  especial — that  of  F.  Buhl  &  Co. — has  been  doing 
business  here  since  1835. 

Notwithstanding  the  steady  diminution  of  furred  ani- 
mals, the  trade  is  still  very  large,  and  furs  continue  to 
be  exported  from   here  to  all  the  countries  of   Europe. 


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IT  is  many  years  since  that  extraordinary  animal,  the 
beaver,  disappeared  from  this  State  ;  extraordinary 
both  in  the  constructive  skill  displayed  by  him,  and  in 
the  results  of  his  labors. 

The  beaver  may  well  be  considered  the  cause  of  the 
settlement  of  Canada.  For  among  the  fur-bearing  ani- 
mals which  were  the  object  of  French  enterprise  in  the 
New  World,  the  beaver  was  by  far  the  chief.  So  large, 
indeed,  was  the  proportion,  and  so  great  the  numbers, 
that  beaver-skins  became  the  medium  of  exchange  em- 
ployed in  the  Indian  traffic,  the  prices  of  goods  being  so 
many  beavers.  It  was,  in  Canada  and  the  North-west, 
the  representative  product,  as  in  Virginia  tobacco  was  the 
currency  of  the  country.  The  figure  of  the  beaver  con- 
stituted the  armorial  bearing  of  Quebec,  Montreal,  and 
other  of  the  chief  cities  of  Canadian  trade,  and  it  is  still 
prominent  in  the  escutcheon  of  Canada.  The  seal  of 
New  Netherlands,  in  the  seventeenth  century,  bore  the 
figure  of  a  beaver,  as  is  the  case  yet  with  some  of  the 
countries  of  Northern  Europe. 

The  vast  numbers  of  this  animal  and  the  ease  with 
which  they  were  captured  seem  to  us  at  this  day  incred- 

Captain  John  Smith,  who  traded  at  the  Isle  of  Shoals, 
on  the  New  England  coast,  in  1614,  says:  "Whilst  the 
sailors  fished,  myself,  with  eight  others,  ranged  the  coast 
in  a  small  boat.     We  got  for  trifles  near   11,000  beaver 



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skins,  100  martens,  and  many  others."  Note  the  pre- 
ponderance of  beavers. 

Vincent  de  St.  Castin,  who  carried  on  an  extensive 
trade  at  Penobscot  Bay,  says  that  80,000  livres  could  be 
annually  realized  there  out  of  the  beaver  trade. 

Bryant,  in  his  "  History  of  the  United  States  '*  (Vol.  I.), 
says :  **  The  beaver  was  to  the  first  people  of  Massachusetts 
a  better  friend  than  the  cod,  though  the  cod  hangs  to 
this  day  in  the  State  House  at  Boston  as  the  emblem  of 
its  prosperity,  while  only  here  and  there  in  the  country 
lingers  some  dim  tradition  of  the  beaver,  where  an  em- 
bankment across  some  secluded  meadow  suggests  that  a 
dam  may  once  have  been  there." 

But  for  the  avarice  of  the  fur  traders,  the  beaver  might 
still  supply  an  article  of  export  and  of  wealth  to  exten- 
sive tracts  of  unimproved  lands  in  Michigan.  In  this 
neighborhood  the  traces  of  their  former  being  are  not 
only  exceedingly  numerous,  but  have  an  intimate  rela- 
tion to  the  topography  of  the  country. 

The  region  between  Lake  Erie  and  Saginaw  was  one 
of  the  great  beaver  trapping-grounds.  The  Huron,  the 
Chippewas,  the  Ottawas,  and  even  the  Iroquois,  from 
beyond  Ontario,  by  turns  sought  this  region  in  large 
parties  for  the  capture  of  this  game,  from  the  earliest 
historic  times.  It  is  a  region  peculiarly  adapted  to  the 
wants  of  this  animal.  To  a  great  extent  level,  it  is  in- 
tersected by  numerous  water  courses,  which  have  but 
moderate  flow.  At  the  head-waters  and  small  inlets  of 
these  streams  the  beaver  established  his  colonies.  Here 
he  dammed  the  streams,  setting  back  the  water  over  the 
flat  lands,  and  creating  ponds,  in  which  were  his  habita- 
tions. Not  one  or  two,  but  a  series  of  such  dams  were 
constructed  along  each  stream,  so  that  very  extensive 


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surfaces  became  thus  covered  permanently  with  the 
flood.  The  trees  were  killed,  and  the  land  converted 
into  a  chain  of  ponds  and  marshes,  with  intervening  dry 
ridges.  In  time,  by  nature*s  recuperative  process — the 
annual  growth  and  decay  of  grasses  and  aquatic  plants — 
these  filled  with  muck  or  peat,  with  occasional  deposits 
of  bog  lime,  and  the  ponds  and  swales  became  dry  again. 
Illustrations  of  this  beaver-made  country  are  numerous 
enough  in  our  immediate  vicinity.  In  a  semi-circle  of 
twelve  miles  around  Detroit,  having  the  river  for  base, 
and  embracing  about  100,000  acres,  fully  one-fifth  part 
consists  of  marshy  tracts  or  praif ies,  which  had  their  ori- 
'gin  in  the  work  of  the  beaver.  A  little  further  west, 
nearly  one  whole  township,  in  Wayne  County,  is  of  this 

The  lands  referable  to  this  origin  occupy  not  the  low- 
est, but  elevated  and  slightly  rolling  tracts.  Numerous 
small  streams  have  their  sources  in  these  prairies,  or 
meander  through  them.  These,  flowing  with  little  de- 
scent through  the  lower  connecting  levels,  are  ramified 
in  every  direction,  and  form  a  network  or  connected 
chain  over  the  whole  surface.  Dry  ridges  intervene, 
mostly  sandy,  and  producing  a  scattered  growth  of 
white  and  yellow  oaks.  The  broader  marshes,  which 
often  extend  several  miles,  are  occasionally  varied  by 
low  islands,  containing  a  heavy  growth  of  timber. 

These  marshes  have  a  soil  of  black  muck  and  fibrous 
peat,  averaging  two  or  three  feet  in  depth,  and  often  much 
more.  This  is  underlaid  by  clay,  with  a  thin  stratum  of 
sand  or  gravel  usually  intervening.  Wild  hay  and  cran- 
berries on  the  open  portions  constitute  a  natural  product 
of  considerable  value ;  other  portions  being  covered  with 
tamarac  trees. 


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The  beaver-dams  are  still  discernible.  Their  builders, 
so  the  Indians  say,  disappeared  from  all  this  region  about 
the  beginning  of  the  present  century. 

Is  there  in  nature  another  instance  where  the  opera- 
tions of  a  single  animal  have  so  changed  the  face  of  a 
'country,  over  such  extensive  areas?  For  the  region  of 
which  I  treat  is  but  a  sample  of  many  others,  stretching 
through  the  border  counties  of  Eastern  Michigan,  and 
about  the  tributaries  of  the  Saginaw. 

But  even  this  large  district  only  feebly  represents  the 
immense  area  on  this  continent  whose  character  has  been 
entirely  changed  through  the  operations  of  the  beaver. 
A  writer,  speaking  of  the  Hudson  Bay  Company's  lands 
in  Canada,  says  :  "  Nearly  every  stream  between  the  Pem- 
bina and  the  Athabasca,  with  the  single  exception  of 
the  McLeod,  has  been  destroyed  by  beavers,  and  nothing 
but  vast  pine  swamps  remain  to  mark  their  place." 

Over  all  the  southerly  portion  of  this  vast  region  the 
mighty  labors  of  this  active  animal  are  now  relics  of  the 
past.  The  beavers  and  Indian  hunters  and  Canadian 
trappers  have  alike  disappeared.  Other  furs,  or  substi- 
tutes for  them,  have  superseded  their  value  to  the  dealer, 
and  the  skins  are  but  rarely  met  with  in  this  whole  re- 
gion, which  once  yielded  little  other  marketable  product. 

While  the  beaver  is  responsible  for  the  flooding  of  such 
immense  extent  of  lands  once  dry,  the  results  are  by  no 
means  an  unmixed  evil.  The  great  accumulation  of 
muck  or  peat  may,  with  proper  treatment,  become  the 
richest  of  soils.  As  prairies  of  the  character  described 
occupy  summit  levels,  the  practicability  of  drainage  is 
at  once  established.  Even  the  cutting  through  of  an 
old  dam — a  day's  work  only,  of  one  or  two  men — may  be 
effectual  to  drain   of  its  surplus  surface  waters  several 


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miles  of  country,  and  if  this  be  followed  up  by  ditches  of 
sufficient  depth  and  number  to  drain  and  dry  the  spongy 
peat,  the  wet  prairie  lands  will,  in  time,  become  thoroughly 
tillable.  Were  as  much  attention  paid  to  the  proper 
methods  of  reclaiming  these  lands  as  is  given  to  the  im- 
provement of  other  and  dryer  lands,  these  now  unattrac- 
tive regions  would  in  time  become  the  garden  portions 
of  our  State. 

The  beaver  is  an  eminently  social  creature.  Its  chief 
purpose  in  the  building  of  its  dams  seems  to  be  the  crea- 
tion of  ponds  suitable  for  its  habitations.  Usually 
twenty  or  thirty  houses  are  assigned  to  a  pond,  one  or 
two  families  occupying  each,  and  they  live  in  clans  or 

It  is  probable  that  these  ponds  may  also  supply  certain 
aquatic  plants,  specially  liked  as  food,  and  they  assist  to 
float  to  their  proper  depositories  the  bark  and  branches 
of  trees  needed  for  the  winter  supplies. 

As  a  builder  and  engineer  the  beaver  exhibits  a  won- 
derful intelligence.  Its  dams  are  constructed  of  trees 
and  sticks  of  timber,  arranged  with  exact  reference  to 
peculiarities  of  situation  and  current,  and  filled  in  with 
stones  and  mud.  They  are  often  100  feet  and  more 
long,  and  10  feet  thick  at  base,  and  become  very  solid  and 
firm.  I  have  seen  along  a  stream  stumps  of  trees  that 
had  been  felled,  as  thick  as  a  man's  body. 

This  dam  maintains  the  water  at  the  level  required  for 
the  houses,  which  are  built  one-third  below  the  surface, 
dome-shaped,  and  with  entrances  both  above  and  below 
the  water.  These  houses  are  very  strongly  constructed 
of  sticks  and  mud,  several  feet  in  thickness,  and  are 
plastered  within  and  without  with  clay  or  mud,  and  they 
have  within  several  stories.     They  are  so  strong  as  to  be 


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366  ^-^^  ^^A  ^^R' 

absolutely  secure  against  the  elements  and  all  enemies,  ex- 
cept man,  whose  ingenuity  and  cunning  in  ways  of  de- 
struction alone  exceed  the  sagacity  of  these  poor  animals 
in  the  defence  of  their  possessions  and  lives. 

The  fondness  of  the  beaver  for  the  water  is  such  as 
almost  to  constitute  that  its  native  element.  In  fact,  its 
peculiar  structure,  its  flat,  scaly,  fish-like  tail,  seems  to  ex- 
hibit it  as  a  connecting  link  between  the  terrestrial  and 
the  aquatic. 

Charlevoix  says  he  found  the  beaver  very  good  eating, 
and  he  adds,  naively  enough,  "  Besides,  in  respect  of  its 
tail,  it  is  altogether  a  fish,  having  been  judicially  declared 
such  by  the  faculty  of  medicine  of  Paris,  in  conse- 
quence of  which  declaration  the  faculty  of  theology  have 
decided  that  it  might  be  lawfully  eaten  on  meagre 

The  traveller,  Henry,  says  the  Indians  considered 
beavers  to  have  been  "  formerly  a  people  endowed  with 
speech,  not  less  than  with  the  noble  faculties  they  possess. 
But  the  Great  Spirit  has  taken  this  away  from  them, 
lest  they  should  grow  superior  in  understanding  to  man- 

Indeed,  the  intelligence  shown  by  this  animal  in  the 
construction  of  its  dams  and  houses  is  so  striking  that 
we  are  amply  justified  in  attributing  their  acts  fully  as 
much  to  reason  as  to  mere  instinct.  They  know  how  to 
fell  a  tree  in  the  proper  direction,  as  readily  as  the  most 
expert  axeman.  And  they  apparently  consult  together 
over  the  best  mode  of  engineering  their  works.  A  dis- 
tinguished engineer — Willard  S.  Pope — who  saw  these 
creatures  at  work  in  our  Northern  peninsula,  relates  that 
on  one  occasion,  when  in  his  engineering  operations  it  i 
became  desirable  to  drain  off  the  water  from  a  beaver 


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pond.  Workmen  were  directed  to  cut  a  channel  through 
the  dam,  which  they  did,  lowering  the  water,  to  the 
great  dissatisfaction  of  its  owners,  for,  rising  early  the  next 
morning,  my  narrator  discovered  an  old  beaver  examin- 
ing the  place  very  carefully,  where  he  was  soon  joined 
by  others.  The  result  of  their  consultation  was  favorable 
to  the  immediate  restoration  of  the  dam.  This  was  ac- 
complished, solidly  and  completely,  the  very  next  night, 
under  the  advice,  no  doubt,  of  their  most  experienced 

The  range  of  the  beaver  in  North  America  is  very 
wide,  being  as  far  north  as  600  of  latitude,  or  more,  and 
as  far  south  as  300,  though  in  greatly  diminishing  num- 
bers. It  is  also  an  inhabitant  of  the  whole  of  Europe 
and  of  Northern  Asia. 

The  weight  of  our  beaver  is  about  50  or  60  pounds. 
It  differs  from  that  of  Europe,  which  is  a  burrowing 
animal,  and  not  so  distinguished  for  intelligence. 

It  is  sad  to  reflect  upon  the  breaking  up  of  these  so- 
ciable communities,  once  so  numerous  and  happy.  Our 
sympathies  are  aroused  for  the  red  man,  when  driven 
from  his  hunting-grounds ;  but  the  beavers  were  a  settled 
race,  owning  the  lands  which  they  occupied,  in  a  far  more 
comprehensive  sense  than  the  roving  Indian. 

To  the  honor  of  the  latter,  their  trappers  never  volun- 
tarily destroyed  whole  settlements  of  beavers,  but  were 
at  pains  to  preserve  the  colony,  hunting  them  only  every 
second  year.  But  the  emissaries  of  the  fur-traders  killed 
all  they  could  find,  leaving  only  a  few  chance  survivors, 
to  become  solitary  and  miserable  wanderers,  where  once 
their  lives  had  been  spent  in  social  happiness.  It  is  a 
relief  to  know  that  in  most  parts  of  the  country  their  ex- 
tinction has  been  so  complete. 

Digitized  b/ 




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**  Sent  arbores,  quae  alter!  seculo  prosint.'* 


Digitized  by  CjOOQIC  \ 


IN  no  one  phenomenon  has  the  century  which  rounds 
our  national  life  been  so  marked,  as  in  the  attitude 
of  our  country  towards  its  woodlands. 

Over  the  whole  central  portion  of  the  United  States, 
a  century  ago,  spread  an  unbroken  forest,  embracing  a 
magnificent  flora  of  deciduous  trees,  unsurpassed  for  size 
and  variety  by  that  of  any  territory  of  equal  extent  on 
the  globe. 

Southerly  from  this  central  region  the  deciduous  trees 
mingled  with  and  gave  place  to  evergreens,  live-oaks 
and  pitch-pines. 

Northerly  this  great  forest  region  embraced,  together 
with  its  deciduous  trees,  the  stately  white  pine,  and 
other  coniferae,  as  far  as  our  northern  boundary. 

Along  the  Pacific  slope  a  dense  forest  occupied  Wash- 
ington Territory,  Oregon  and  California,  consisting 
mostly  of  conifers. 

Between  these  two  regions  stretched,  with  few  excep- 
tions, an  almost  treeless  region,  embracing  nearly  one- 
half  the  whole  territory  of  the  United  States. 

Nowhere  in  the  Old  World,  from  which  had  come  the 
energetic  races  that  were  so  soon  to  overrun  these  virgin 
forests,  could  the  eye  of  man  witness  such  a  marvellous 
variety  and  immense  growth  of  timber  as  shut  in  on  the 

♦  A  lecture  before  the  Detroit  Scientific  Association,  1877, 



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west  the  still  struggling,  but  independent  thirteen  col- 
onies. The  large  number  of  species,  many  of  which  were 
new  to  the  botanist,  the  great  size  and  height  of  many, 
and  their  dense  growth,  gave  to  the  forests  of  the  New 
World  a  solemn  and  majestic  character  which  was  the 
admiration  and  wonder  of  the  Old  World  foresters. 

According  to  the  enumeration  of  its  botanists.  Great 
Britain  contains  29  species  of  indigenous  trees  of  30  feet 
height  and  upwards;  of  which  only  15  are  classed  as 
'*  large." 

In  France,  authorities  name  30  to  34  species.  And 
Central  Europe,  from  the  Adriatic  to  the  Baltic,  and 
from  France  to  Russia,  contains  about  60  species  only. 

Compare  this  meagre  catalogue  with  that  of  America. 

Gray  enumerates  in  the  states  east  of  the  Mississippi, 
and  north  of  the  Carolinas,  132  indigenous  species  which 
attain  30  feet  in  height. 

New  England  has  80  to  85  species,  of  which  about  60 
reach  a  height  of  50  feet. 

The  Middle  States  have  over  100  species,  of  which 
about  60  reach  50  feet. 

The  North-west — Ohio  to  Minnesota — has  about  no 
species :  of  these  70  attain  a  height  of  50  feet. 

The  South-east — from  Virginia  to  Florida — is  richest 
in  species,  having  upwards  of  150;  75  of  which  attain  a 
height  of  50  feet,  or  more. 

On  the  authority  of  Prof.  Brewer,  the  whole  number 
of  species  of  our  native  trees  that  attain  to  30  feet  and 
upwards  in  height  is  stated  at  above  300,  or  five  times 
that  of  Europe ;  of  these  about  120  reach  50  feet. 
•  So  different  an  idea  from  that  which  we  are  accus- 
tomed to  is  current  on  the  other  side  of  the  ocean,  of 
what    constitutes   a  *' forest,"  that    its  expression    may 



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well  cause  a  smile  on  the  face  of  an  American  woods- 
man. This  idea  is  well  illustrated  by  Frank  Buckland, 
in  his  **  Log-book/*  in  England. 

"At  one  place  the  tourist  asked,  *  What  do  they  call 
yon  hills  ?  * 

"  *  Eh,  but  that*s  just  a  deer  forest,'  says  the  coachman. 

"  '  Deer-forest,'  said  the  tourist,  *  but  I  see  no  trees.* 

"  *  Trees,'  said  coachee,  *  but,  man,  who  ever  heard  of 
trees  in  a  forest.'  " 

In  this  country  that  man  would  have  been  unable  to 
see  the  forest,  for  the  trees. 

Yet  to  its  first  possessors,  all  this  boundless  natural 
wealth  was  thrown  away.  Everywhere  the  grand  aim 
of  the  early  settler  was  to  get  rid  of  the  encumbrance. 
He  must  hew  a  way  to  his  inheritance  by  bold  strokes  of 
the  axe.  The  whole  life  of  the  hardy  pioneer  was  a 
constant  battle  with  these  Titans  of  nature.  To  let  in 
the  sun  upon  his  patch  of  culture  was  his  first  care,  for 
upon  the  extent  to  which  this  was  redeemed  from  the 
woodland  depended  the  welfare  of  his  family,  and  his 
prospects  of  future  wealth. 

Such  sentiments  as  our  great  novelist  puts  so  often 
into  the  mouth  of  Judge  Temple,  in  condemnation  of 
the  general  destruction  of  the  forests,  are  indeed  noble 
and  prophetic,  but  it  was  well  that  they  prevailed  so  lit- 
tle. Else  agriculture  would  not  so  speedily  have  usurped 
the  wilderness,  bringing  a  thriving  population  and  national 

But  the  century  which  has  witnessed  such  a  wonderful 
national  progress  did  not  pass  without  a  change  in  the 
relationship  of  man  to  the  trees. 

The  indiscriminate  destruction  of  timber,  without  re- 


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gard  to  the  future,  began  at  last  to  be  felt,  not  only  in 
increasing  scarcity  of  supply,  but  in  diminished  value  of 
the  lands,  and  other  attendant  evils. 

So  great  and  indiscriminate  has  been  this  destruction, 
that  already  cause  for  a  wide-spread  alarm  exists,  lest 
our  country  be  speedily  reduced  to  the  condition  of 
many  countries  of  the  Eastern  hemisphere.  In  many  of 
the  older  states,  where  the  supply  at  one  time  seemed 
exhaustless,  there  is  now  almost  destitution  of  timber  for 
the  commonest  needs.  The  destruction  has  amounted 
to  absolute  waste,  and  it  has  been  going  on  in  an  in- 
creased ratio  with  the  population. 

When  we  look  at  the  causes  of  this  rapid  diminution,  it 
ceases  to  be  a  wonder.     Let  us  examine  these  briefly. 

With  the  enormous  increase  in  the  extent  of  cultiva- 
tion has  been  coincident  one  of  the  earliest  and  largest 
demands  upon  our  forests,  viz.,  iox  fencing  nxdX^xvdX. 

Estimates  differ  as  to  the  amount  of  wood  consumed 
in  fences,  but  all  are  large  almost  beyond  belief  of  any 
one  who  has  not  well  considered  the  subject.  General 
Brisbin,  an  intelligent  army  officer,  asserts,*  "  that  the 
fences  of  the  United  States  have  cost  more  than  the 
land,  and  are  to-day  the  most  valuable  class  of  property 
in  the  country,  except  railroads  and  real  estate  in  cities." 
Our  fences  are  now  valued  at  $1,800,000,000  and  have 
required  the  clearing  probably  of  25,000,000  acres.  To 
keep  these  in  repair  costs  annually  $100,000,000. 

The  timber  which  goes  into  railroad  ties  is  .also  enor- 
mous. According  to  the  same  writer  "the  71,000  miles 
of  railroad  in  the  United  States  have  required  in  build- 
ing 184,000,000  ties,  and  these  have  to  be  replaced  every 

*  In  an  able  letter  to  the  New  York  Worldy  1875. 


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seven  years."  This  annual  supply  is  equivalent  to  not 
less  than  2,ocx),ooo  cords  of  standing  timber  ;  so  that, 
assuming  the  average  yield  per  acre  to  be  50  cords,  rail- 
road ties  destroy  annually  40,000  acres  of  woodland. 

The  annual  consumption  of  wood  for  fuel  may  be  esti- 
mated at  over  50,000,000  cords,  causing  a  clearing  of 
600,000  acres.  It  took  10,000  acres  of  forest,  in  1871,  to 
supply  Chicago  with  fuel  for  a  single  year.  To  this  we 
must  add  the  supply  annually  required  for  furnaces  and 
manufactures  of  all  kinds,  which  call  for  many  thousand 
acres  more. 

The  felling  of  forest  in  the  process  of  bringing  new  land 
under  cultivation  is  still  going  on,  at  a  rate  almost  be- 
yond computation.  From  i860  to  1870  it  is  supposed 
that  no  less  than  12,000,000  acres  were  thus  destroyed, 
or  1,200,000  annually. 

When  we  consider  the  great  lumber  interests  of  our 
country,  the  rate  at  which  our  woods  are  being  felled,  to 
supply  the  demand  for  pine  and  other  timber  used  in  the 
arts,  almost  staggers  belief.  ^ 

Michigan  takes  the  lead  of  all  the  States.  Her  annual 
cut  for  the  last  ten  years,  as  shown  by  reliable  statistics, 
has  been  not  far  from,  2,500,000,000  feet,  board  measure  ; 
equivalent  to  the  removal  of  33,000  acres  of  forest.  With 
even  no  greater  ratio  of  increase  in  the  future,  the  next 
cycle  of  ten  years  will  find  little  white  pine  timber  left  in 
this  State. 

Pennsylvania,  New  York  and  Wisconsin  follow  not  far 
behind,  and,  taking  into  account  the  whole  country,  it  is 
safe  to  set  down  the  total  annual  consumption  of  manu- 
factured lumber  at  not  far  below  20,000,000,000  feet ;  rep- 
resenting an  annual  clearing  of  325,000  acres,  or  over  500 
square  miles. 


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The  Canadian  Lumberman  gives  some  further  items, 
showing  where  the  wood  goes. 

"  To  make  shoe  pegs  enough  for  American  use  con- 
sumes annually  ic»,ooo  cords  of  timber.  Lasts  and  boot- 
trees  take  500,000  cords  of  birch,  beech  and  maple,  and 
the  handles  of  tools  500,000  more.  To  make  our  lucifer 
matches  300,000  cubic  feet  of  the  best  pine  are  required 
every  year.  The  baking  of  our  bricks  consumes  2,000,000 
cords  of  wood,  or  what  would  cover  with  forest  55,000 
acres  of  land.  Telegraph  poles  represent  800,000  trees, 
and  their  annual  repair  about  300,000  more.  Packing 
boxes  cost,  in  1874,  $12,000,000,  while  the  timber  used 
each  year  in  making  wagons  and  agricultural  imple- 
ments is  valued  at  more  than  $100,000,000." 

To  all  these  recurring  causes  of  the  destruction  of  our 
forests  we  must  addy?r^^,  the  ravages  of  insects,  and  other 
natural  agencies;  causes  which  are  rapidly  on  the  in- 
crease. The  destruction  by  forest  fires  seems  likely  soon 
to  equal  all  other  causes,  in  our  characteristic  neglect 
of  the  proper  remedies. 

The  total  annual  consumption  of  our  forests  from  all 
these  causes  combined  has  been  variously  estimated  at 
from  4,000,000  to  8,000,000  acres.  Assuming  the  lowest  es- 
timate to  be  nearest  the  truth,  and  the  annual  increase  to 
be  ten  per  cent,  only,  it  will  require  less  than  half  another " 
century  to  leave  us  treeless,  unless  planting  on  a  large 
scale  be  resorted  to.  Wonderful  progress  indeed,  but 
attended  by  what  waste  of  this  great  natural  store-house 
of  wealth,  and  with  how  little  prevision  of  the  future ! 

I  need  not  dwell  upon  the  economical  importance  of 
this  subject.  When  we  consider  how  largely  the  wealth 
of  the  country  consists  in  its  woods,  and  how  vastly  the 
price  of  lumber  of  all  kinds  will  be  enhanced,  so  soon  as 


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we  are  reduced  to  grow  our  own  forests,  the  results  seem 

i»  » 

There  is  another  aspect  of  this  subject  which  still  more 
deeply  concerns  the  national  welfare,  viz.,  the  relationship 
of  trees  to  climate. 

There  is  not  entire  agreement  among  practical  scien- 
tists, as  to  the  effect  of  the  removal  of  the  forests  upon 
the  climate,  and  especially  upon  the  rainfall.  Without 
going  into  any  discussion,  I  think  the  following  propo- 
sitions are  well  established,  and  of  vital  importance: 

1st.  That  the  temperature  is  hotter  in  summer  and 
colder  in  winter,  than  when  the  country  was  covered 
with  forest.  This  is  a  natural  result  of  exposure  of  the 
soil  to  more  active   radiation,  and  consequent  frost. 

2d.  The  winds  have  a  more  uninterrupted  sweep,  and 
so  the  country  is  both  dried  up  and  refrigerated. 
Scarcely  any  influence  is  so  deleterious  to  plant  life  as 
exposure  to  our  severe  westerly  winds. 

3d.  The  rainfall  is  either  less  in  amount,  or  it  is  less 
equally  distributed  through  the  seasons,  and  its  advantages 
to  the  soil  and  to  plants  are  to  a  great  degree  lost. 

It  may  be  admitted  that  data  are  yet  insufficient  to  de- 
termine the  question,  whether  the  removal  of  forest  di- 
minishes the  actual  amount  of  rainfall.  The  weight  of 
testimony  and  philosophy  tend  to  the  latter  conclusion. 
At  least  certain  principles  may  be  accepted  as  in  har- 
mony with  the  above  propositions. 

Trees  are  remarkable  condensers  of  humidity,  as  may 
be  seen  from  the  drops  which  they  precipitate  during  a 
fog,  sometimes  even  producing  rills  of  water.  From  this 
cause,  and  the  shade  which  they  afford  to  the  ground,  a 


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more  uniform  degree  of  moisture  is  preserved  in  the  at- 
mosphere about  them  than  in  cleared  lands. 

Now,  vapor  pervading  the  atmosphere  has  a  remarkable 
efficiency  in  preventing  radiation  of  heat  from  the  soil. 
Wherever  the  air  is  dry  the  thermometric  range  will  be 
great.  Tyndall  says,  "  The  removal  for  a  single  winter's 
night  of  the  aqueous  vapor  from  the  atmosphere  which 
covers  England  would  be  attended  by  the  destruction  of 
every  plant  which  a  freezing  temperature  could  kill." 

Observations  made  in  Bavaria  showed,  that  for  the 
month  of  July  the  temperature  at  midday  within  the 
forest  is  8  ®  below  that  of  the  unwooded  land,  but  at 
night  it  is  4.39^  higher.  During  the  night,  the  colder  and  . 
denser  air  of  the  unwooded  land  passes  into  the  forest, 
rises  and  is  cooled,  and  during  the  day  the  contrary 
occurs.  Thus  a  circulation  is  established  which  regulates 
the  temperature. 

By  keeping  up  a  cooler  atmosphere  over  them  than  in 
the  open  ground,  trees  maintain  the  condition  under 
which  rain  is  precipitated  by  condensation.  In  open 
spaces  the  warmer  ascending  air  tends  to  disperse  the 
vapors  which  collect  and  are  utilized  by  our  woods  and 
forest-covered  hills.  In  this  way  the  latter  doubtless  pro- 
mote the  frequency  of  showers,  if  they  do  not  augment 
the  total  amount. 

Finally,  the  presence  of  forest  serves  to  retain  the 
moisture  that  falls,  as  well  as  to  diminish  the  evaporation 
from  the  soil.  Thus  the  rains  are  allowed  to  soak  into 
the  soil,  or  to  pass  away  gradually ;  which,  falling  upon 
open  ground,  are  rapidly  drained  off  into  the  dry  water- 
courses, and  occasion  disastrous  floods. 

These  propositions  are  so  fully  sustained  by  facts,  all 


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over  the  world,  and  these  have  been  so  repeatedly 
brought  to  our  notice,  that  I  feel  disposed  to  pass  by 
any  details.  Yet  I  cannot  forbear  to  fortify  my  position 
by  referring  to  a  few. 

No  one  whose  observations  cover  a  quarter  of  a  cent- 
ury can  be  unfamiliar  with  the  fact,  so  frequently  no- 
ticed, that  the  streams  with  which  he  was  familiar  in  his 
boyhood  have  shrunken  or  dried  up.  Wherever  the 
woods  are  cleared  away  to  any  considerable  extent  this 
effect  invariably  follows.  Springs  fail,  water-courses  be- 
come dry,  or  yield  only  a  precarious  and  scanty  supply 
compared  with  their  former  copiousness. 

How  different  the  aspect  now  of  all  the  settled  por- 
tions of  our  land  from  what  it  appeared  to  the  eyes  and 
was  described  in  the  relations  of  the  earliest  travellers. 

"  Before  these  fields  were  shorn  and  tilled 

Full  to  the  brim  our  rivers  flowed ; 
The  melody  of  waters  filled 

The  fresh  and  boundless  wood  ; 
And  torrents  dashed,  and  rivulets  played. 
And  fountains  spouted  in  the  shade." 

In  the  desiccated  county  we  now  inhabit,  how  unreal 
seem  these  lines  of  our  great  poet,  whose  fourscore  years 
have  made  him  a  faithful  witness  of  the  scenes  he  so 
graphically  depicts  ?  * 

Droughts  have  become  of  frequent  occurrence  where 
they  were  seldom  known  while  the  greater  portion  of  the 
country  was  covered  with  wood.  They  are  now  the  rule 
in  summer  and  autumn,  rather  than  the  exception. 
These  are  facts  familiar  to  most  of  us.  Our  pastures  dry 
up  and  are  of  little  service  for  several  weeks  during 
the  year.     The    more  tender  fruits,  such  as  the  peach, 

*  Bryant :  died  May,  1878. 


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cannot  be  successfully  grown  where  they  bore  abundant 
crops  some  years  ago.  The  grape  mildews,  or  fails  to 
ripen.  Many  of  our  most  hardy  trees  and  shrubs  are 
killed,  by  the  depth  to  which  frost  penetrates  the  soil. 
Wheat  and  other  crops  suffer  from  the  same  causes. 

Should  this  state  of  things  continue,  and  increase  in 
the  ratio  of  the  past,  another  half-century  will  witness 
our  land  as  unfruitful  and  barren  as  are  those  deserts  of 
the  Orient,  now  almost  uninhabitable,  which  were  once 
the  homes  of  millions  and  the  cradle  of  the  human  fam- 

The  experience  of  the  Old  World  should  be  a  lesson  to 
us.  Says  a  writer  in  Appletons  Journal  (A.  B.  Guern- 
«ey),  "  Palestine,  when  the  Hebrews  took  possession  of 
it,  was  a  land  of  rivulets  and  fountains.  In  its  palmy  days 
the  territory — not  so  large  as  Massachusetts — ^supported 
in  plenty  a  population  of  at  least  five  millions,  where 
now  not  more  than  250,000  find  a  scanty  subsistence. 
Under  the  Roman  rule  it  was  still  densely  populated. 
But  during  the  wars  which  followed  the  revolt  under 
Vespasian  and  Titus,  the  Romans  systematically  cut 
down  not  merely  the  fruit  trees,  but  the  forests,  and  in  the 
course  of  a  few  generations  the  greater  part  of  the  coun- 
try was  reduced  to  the  almost  waterless  desert  it  now  is. 
The  channels  of  the  rivulets  still  remain,  but  they  are  dry 
ravines,  except  directly  after  a  rain,  when  they  become 
roaring  torrents ;  the  only  exception  being  those  streams 
whose  sources  lie  high  up  among  the  wooded  heights  of. 

"  Greece  tells  the  same  story.  In  a  large  part  of  it  the 
forests  which  once  clothed  the  hill  sides  have  long  been 
destroyed ;   the  famous  fountains  of  antiquity  now  flow 


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only  in  song,  and  rivers  of  historical  renown  are  now  but 
scanty  brooks,  which  a  child  may  ford." 

"The  African  shores  of  the  Mediterranean,  long  the 
granary  of  the  Roman  Empire,  have  from  the  same 
cause  become  not  merely  uninhabited,  but  practically 
uninhabitable,  by  any  except*  nomads,  wandering  from 
one  scanty  fountain  to  another/* 

If  the  present  physical  condition  of  those  classic  lands 
belies  the  glowing  descriptions  of  their  fertility  given  by 
ancient  geographers,  what  facts  are  within  our  more 
modern  experience  ? 

A  recent  traveller  says  (N.  Y.  Herald oi  Nov.,  1872) :  "  In 
Italy  the  modern  clearing  of  the  Apennines  is  universally 
believed  to  have  altered  the  climate  of  the  rich  Po  valley, 
where  now  the  sirocco,  unknown  to  the  armies  of  an- 
cient Rome,  breathes  its  deadly  breath  of  flame  over 
that  classic  stream,  in  the  territory  of  Parma.** 

The  results  of  the  clearing  of  the  forests  from  the  spurs 
and  valleys  of  the  Pyrenees,  in  Southern  France,  came  to 
our  ears  last  year,  in  reports  of  sudden  and  terrible  in- 
undations, which  devastated  whole  provinces,  sweeping 
many  families,  and  indeed  whole  districts,  with  their 
herds,  to  destruction.  The  dry  beds  of  ravines,  that  for- 
merly were  regular  streams,  became  suddenly  filled  by 
rains  of  unusual  copiousness,  which  rushed  in  headlong 
torrents  towards  the  sea. 

In  Southern  Russia,  the  winters  are  becoming  colder 
every  year,  and  the  summers  hotter,  more  dry  and  less 
fruitful,  owing,  as  is  clearly  proved,  to  the  destruction  of 
the  woods  which  formerly  abounded.  From  the  same 
cause  streams  are  everywhere  shallowing,  not  in  Russia 
alone,  but  over  Europe,  so  that  many  once  navigable  are 
no  longer  so. 


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Coming  nearer  home,  we  have  similar  reports  from 
many  islands  of  the  West  Indies.  In  the  annual  Record 
of  Science  and  Industry^  for  1874,  Mr.  Frederick  Hub- 
bard says,  "  Santa  Cruz  changed  from  fertility  to  barren- 
ness by  the  diminution  of  the  rainfall,  owing  to  the 
removal  of  the  forests.  Streams,  fail,  springs  dry  up, 
and  cultivation  has  become  impossible  without  constant 

**  In  the  neighboring  island  of  Porto  Rico,  which  is 
not  so  mountainous,  the  rain  is  abundant. 

"  The  rainy  seasons  are  a  succession  of  sudden  showers 
with  hot  sun  at  intervals.  The  opening  of  the  foil  to 
the  vertical  rays  causes  its  rapid  drying,  and  prevents  the 
rain  from  sinking  to  the  roots  of  plants. 

"The  small  island  of  Curagoa,  in  1845,  was  almost  a 
perfect  desert,  while,  according  to  history,  it  had  been  a 
garden  of  fertility.  The  cause  was  the  cutting  down  of 
the  trees  for  export  of  timber.  Almost  within  sight  is 
the  Spanish  Main,  covered  with  the  rankest  vegetation, 
over  which  the  burdened  clouds  shower  down  abundant 
rain,  while  at  Cura§oa  fresh  water  is  among  the  luxu- 

Another  result  of  deforesting — as  yet  but  little  ex- 
perienced in  this  country — is  felt  to  baneful  extent  in 
those  lands  whose  hills  have  long  been  stripped  of  their 
protective  woods.  I  allude  to  the  washing  away  and 
loss  of  fertile  soil,  in  consequence  of  the  absence  of 

Sicily  was  once  the  garden  of  the  Mediterranean,  and 
its  valleys  are  still  fertile,  but  its  hills,  which  were  once 
so,  are  not  only  treeless,  but  so  bare  of  soil  as  to  render 
any  attempt  to  renew  their  former  condition  almost 
hopeless.     During  my  visit  to  the  island,  in  the  spring, 



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after  a  year's  drought,  a  violent  rain-storm  had  converted 
the  rills  which  descended  from  the  slopes  into  the  valleys 
into  torrents.  These  carried  with  them  all  the  loose 
materials  into  the  larger  streams,  by  which  they  were 
swept  into  the  sea.  As  our  train  approached  the  coast, 
we  found  all  the  streams  swollen,  and  the  gullies  so  filled 
with  the  sudden  flood,  as  to  impede  and  endanger  our 
progress.  Looking  towards  the  sea,  far  as  the  eye  could 
reach,  the  waters  were  turbid  with  the  spoils  of  the  land. 
It  seemed  to  my  eyes  that  hundreds  of  acres  of  fertile 
soil  had  been  carried  off  and  lost  by  that  single  day's 
rain.  How  immense  and  irreparable  the  destruction 
resulting  from  the  devastations  of  all  the  years  that  have 
passed  since  the  hills  were  denuded  of  their  forests  ! 

If  similar  experiences  in  our  own  country  have  been 
less  felt  it  is  because  the  evil  has  not  yet  been  so  ex- 
tended. But  that  like  effects  have  followed  like  causes 
is  notorious,  as  our  agricultural  interest  universally  has 
known,  to  its  cost. 

So  widely  felt  are  these  evils,  that  legislatures,  both 
national  and  state,  have  already  been  called  upon  to 
establish  measures  for  the  preservation  of  valuable  tim- 
ber, the  restraining  of  waste,  and  for  granting  bounties 
upon  the  planting  of  trees. 

It  is  a  curious  fact,  which  the  contrasts  of  time  set  be- 
fore our  eyes  in  a  new  historic  importance,  that  in  our 
early  colonial  history,  among  the  restrictions  placed  by 
the  home  government  upon  the  industry  of  the  colon- 
ists, none  was  considered  more  burdensome  than  that 
upon  the  cutting  of  timber.  It  was  prominent  among 
the  causes  of  discontent  which  led  to  the  American  Rev- 

Sabine,  in  his  "  Loyalists  of  the  Revolution,**  notices 


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among  the  restrictions  upon  lumbering  in  Maine,  one 
which  provided  that  all  pine  trees  of  the  diameter  of 
twenty-four  inches,  on  lands  not  granted  to  private  per- 
sons, should  be  reserved  for  masts  for  the  royal  navy, 
and  that  for  the  cutting  down  any  such  tree,  without 
special  leave,  the  offender  should  forfeit  ;f  100  sterling. 

As  we  in  Michigan  look  back  to  the  times  when  the 
most  valuable  pine  trees  which  graced  the  vacant  United 
States  lands  were  ruthlessly  plundered,  to  no  better 
result  than  the  educating  of  communities  of  thieves,  we 
may  well  wish  that  our  Republican  Government  had 
displayed  somewhat  of  the  foresight  and  temper  of  the 
British  king.  In  the  light  of  our  experience  since  we 
became  a  nation,  how  strange  it  appears,  that  a  restric- 
tion upon  the  plundering  propensities  of  the  lumbermen 
of  New  England  should  be  reckoned  among  the  causes 
which  led  the  way  to  our  national  independence  ! 

Nevertheless  the  necessity  was  felt,  even  so  early,  of 
putting  a  stop  to  needless  waste.  We  read  that  "  att  a 
meeting  held  this  29th  day  of  April  1699,  in  Breuchlyn/* 
Benjamin  Vande  Water,  Joris  Hanson  and  Jan  Dorlant 
were  chosen  officers,  to  consider  the  "  great  inconven- 
ience &  lose**  that  the  inhabitants  suffered,  because 
that  unauthorized  tradesmen  "  doe  ffall  &  cutt  the 
best  trees  and  sully  the  best  woods." 

In  some  of  the  colonial  grants  of  New  York,  more 
than  150  years  ago,  we  find  excellent  provisions  relating 
to  precautions  against  fires  in  the  woods.* 

Congress  also,  at  various  times,  from  1777  to  1827, 
passed  acts  looking  to  the  preservation  of  timber  for  na- 
val purposes,  and  to  prevent  poaching. 

*  Report  of  Commissioners  on  th?  Public  Lands,  to  Confess,  1874. 


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Shall  the  sons  be  less  wise  than  their  sires  ?  Though 
in  many  of  the  material  resources  and  growth  of  the  na- 
tional life  the  infant  of  the  past  has  become  the  strong 
man  of  to-day,  yet  as  regards  the  reckless  waste  of  this 
source  of  power  we  are  still  very  far  behind.  A  London 
writer,  commenting  upon  the  tremendous  ravages  of  the 
settler's  axe  in  America,  compares  the  wholesale  strip- 
ping of  the  Republic's  soil  of  its  timber  to  Delilah's 
robbing  Samson  of  the  secret  of  his  strength. 

In  all  the  chief  governments  of  Europe  elaborate  sys- 
tems of  forestry  have  long  been  established,  to  the  end 
that  the  timber  shall  be  saved  from  all  unnecessary  de- 
struction, that  it  shall  be  allowed  to  grow  in  situations 
where  experience  has  proved  its  importance  in  the  amel- 
ioration of  climate,  and  to  ensure  the  planting  of  new 

In  this  country  we  have  but  recently  awakened  to  the 
importance  of  considerations  of  this  kind. 

The  American  Association  for  the  advancement  of  sci- 
ence, at  its  meeting  of  1873,  appointed  a  committee  to 
memorialize  Congress  and  the  several  State  Legislatures 
"  on  the  importance  of  promoting  the  cultivation  of  tim- 
ber, and  the  preservation  of  forests,  and  to  recommend 
such  legislation  as  may  be  deemed  proper  for  securing 
these  objects."  This  resulted  in  the  recommendation  by 
the  committee  on  the  public  lands,  for  the  appointing  of 
a  "  commission  for  inquiring  into  the  destruction  of  for- 
ests, and  the  measures  necessary  for  the  preservation  of 

Congress  the  same  year  passed  an  act  "  to  encourage 
the  growth  of  timber  on  the  Western  prairies."  It 
granted  for  every  acre  planted  out  in  trees,   not  more 

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than  twelve  feet  apart,  a  patent  for  sixteen  acres.  Under 
this  liberal  provision  no  less  than  20,000,000  trees  have 
been  already  planted  on  the  hitherto  treeless  regions  of 

The  subject  was  brought  before  our  own  State  "Legisla- 
ture by  a  memorial  from  the  State  Board  of  Agriculture, 
referred  to  a  special  committee  and  reported  upon  by 
them,  January,  1867. 

This  report,  written  by  Prof.  Kedzie,  presented  the 
facts  of  the  injury  to  the  agricultural,  manufacturing  and 
commercial  interests  of  the  State,  resulting  from  the 
reckless  and  violent  disturbance  of  her  forest  economy, 
in  an  impressive  manner.  Several  remedies  were  sug- 

Among  these  was  a  proposition  to  exempt  belts  of 
timber  of  moderate  width,  running  north  and  south, 
from  all  taxation. 

Another  forcible  suggestion  is  to  compel  the  fencing  in 
of  stock,  by  prohibiting  their  running  at  large,  and  thus 
make  an  immense  saving  by  dispensing  with  the  general 
fencing  of  farms. 

A  third  measure  is  to  encourage  the  planting  of  trees 
along  the  highways,  by  remitting  to  persons  so  planting 
part  of  their  highway  taxes. 

Great  difficulties  surround  this  subject  of  legislative 
remedies,  owing  partly  to  a  natural  jealousy  of  any  re- 
striction upon  liberty  of  action,  in  matters  conceived  to 
belong  to  the  private  judgment  of  the  individual,  and 
still  more  to  the  prevailing  ignorance  as  to  the  proper 
method  of  planting  and  the  care  of  trees. 

In  the  States  of  Europe,  and  especially  in  Germany, 
forestry  is  a  science,  and  there  are  schools  for  teaching  it, 
and  for  educating  young  men  to  become  capabl  e  mem- 




bers  of  a  forest  staff.  Not  alone  are  taught  the  practical 
branches,  such  as  the  best  methods  of  planting,  cutting, 
preservation  against  fire,  etc.,  but  also  the  diseases  to 
which  trees  are  subject,  and  their  insect  foes,  and  the 
remedies.  All  the  minutiae  there  practised  may  not  be 
possible  under  our  government,  nor  necessary  for  years 
to  come,  but  certainly  some  system,  more  effectual  than 
any  yet  adopted,  is  needed,  and  cannot  be  too  soon 

Some  permanent  good  might  be  accomplished  by  the 
appointment  by  the  general  government,  and  in  each 
State,  of  a  commissioner  of  forestry,  with  such  powers 
and  duties  as  our  peculiar  circumstances  require.  Under 
his  direction  commissioners  of  highways — who  should 
be  men  of  science  and  experience — may  be  employed  to 
plant  trees  along  the  roads,  taxing  the  expense  upon  the 
lands.  Under  such  oversight  the  work  would  be  done 
far  more  cheaply  and  well  than  is  possible  if  left,  as  now, 
to  individual  caprice.  Proper  science  would  be  exer- 
cised as  to  kind  and  number  of  trees,  method  of  planting, 
distance  apart,  uniformity,  etc.,  where  now  all  is  hap-haz- 
ard.  In  time  our  public  roads  would  become  embowered 
avenues,  grateful  alike  to  man  and  beast,  belts  of 
shelter  to  the  enclosed  lands  from  the  blasting  winds,  as 
well  as  drifting  snow  and  sands,  and  promoters  of  all 
kindly  atmospheric  influences. 

The  reckless  slashing  of  timber  as  now  practised,  and 
which  is  the  prime  cause  of  our  terrible  forest  fires, 
should  be  prevented  by  stringent  laws  and  a  watchful 

Another  most  serviceable  State  law  would  be  one  ab- 
solutely prohibiting  the  running  at  large  of  cattle  and 
swine.     As  the  only  object  of  fences  is  to  restrain  cattle, 


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what  an  enormous  saving  would  be  accomplished  were 
fences  to  be  universally  dispensed  with.  It  would  equal 
annually  the  interest  on  the  national  debt,  and  would 
far  exceed  the  cash  value  of  all  the  horses  and  stock  in  the 
country.  All  this  might  be  effected  by  the  simple  proc- 
ess of  shutting  in  stock,  instead  of  shutting  them  out ! 
In  Europe  there  are  no  cattle  at  large,  and  no  fences. 
The  custom  is  purely  American,  and  its  cost  is  only 
equalled  by  its  folly. 

In  the  once  forest-covered  regions  of  America,  where 
the  aim  has  so  long  been  how  soonest  to  get  rid  of  the 
timber,  men  have  hardly  yet  schooled  their  ideas  up  to 
the  point  of  reversing  their  operations,  and  planting  out 
new  woodlands  to  take  place  of  the  old.  But  in  the 
sparsely  timbered  and  prairie  portions,  the  planting  of 
trees  for  timber,  as  well  as  for  shelter,  has  for  quite  a 
number  of  years  commanded  the  attention  of  land- 
owners and  legislatures.  Planting  is  now  going  on,  on 
a  large  scale,  in  Nebraska,  Minnesota,  Iowa,  and  other 
of  our  Western  States.  These  efforts,  if  continued  with 
the  zeal  which  now  animates  the  people  of  those  hitherto 
almost  shelterless  districts,  bid  far  to  soon  reverse  the 
old  order  of  things,  and  transfer  the  forest  region  to  the 
other  side  of  the  Mississippi. 

I  almost  venture  the  prediction,  that  in  another  quar- 
ter of  a  century,  the  once  densely  wooded  Eastern  lands 
will  be  the  treeless  region,  while  the  open  and  arid 
Western  plains  will  be  clothed  with  verdant  forests,  and, 
through  their  agency,  be  refreshed  with  more  frequent 
showers,  defended  from^the  blighting  winds,  and  blos- 
som with  unwonted  fertility. 

Digitized  by 




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•*  O,  hath  the  Dryad  still  a  tongue 
In  this  ungenial  clime  ? 
Have  sylvan  spirits  still  a  voice 

As  in  the  classic  prime^ 
To  make  the  forest  voluble, 
As  in  the  olden  time  ? " 



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BEYOND  the  quality  of  utility,  in  its  restricted 
sense,  there  is  another  view  of  our  subject  which 
I  love  to  contemplate,  and  to  which  I  ask  your  indul- 
gent attention,  namely,  its  aesthetic  or  social  aspect. 

To  my  mind,  none  of  the  pfoductions  of  nature,  next 
to  a  beautiful  woman,  equals  in  grace  a  well-developed 
tree.  But  to  be  thus  developed,  a  tree,  like  the  human 
form,  must  have  full  measure  of  light  and  liberty.  It  is 
not  under  the  constraints  of  fashion  that  woman's  form 
divine  assumes  its  highest  attractiveness ;  nor  is  it  in 
the  thick  forest,  which  so  thwarts  the  struggle  for  indi- 
vidual expansion,  that  we  find  in  a  tree  its  full  e>tpres- 
sion  of  beauty.  Its  life  must  have  a  more  free  exist- 
ence, a  more  liberal  supply  of  the  blessed  sunshine  and 
the  fresh  winds.  It  must  have  leave  to  strike  its  roots 
deeply  and  widely,  and  to  spread  abroad  its  branches  as 
its  nature  prompts. 

Of  the  natural  forms  even  of  our  commonest  trees,  as 
well  as  of  their  amazing  beauty  and  variety  of  feature, 
most  people  have  little  notion,  who  see  them  only  as  the 
artificially  trained  ornaments  of  the  streets,  or  the 
crowded  denizens  of  the  woods. 

Would  many  believe  that  the  elm,  that  stately  tree 
whose  lofty  head  arches  so  high  above  its  neighbors  of 
the  forest,  inclines  by  the  instinct  of  nature  to  rest  its 
drooping  limbs  on  its  mother's  bosom  ? 

How  many  woodsmen  recognize  in  the  tulip-tree  of 



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the  lawn  (Liriodendron  tulipiferd)^  with  its  wide-spread 
limbs,  hidden  by  a  drapery  of  leaves,  and  glowing  with 
a  profusion  of  magnolia-like  blossoms,  the  tall  white-wood 
of  the  forest,  whose  foliage  and  bloom  are  alike  far 
beyond  his  vision  ?  which 

** high  up, 

Opens  in  airs  of  June  her  multitude 
Of  golden  chalices  to  humming  birds, 
And  silken-winged  insects  of  the  sky.'' 


The  like  tendency  is  true  of  the  hickory,  the  maple, 
the  linden,  the  sycamore,  even  the  oak  ;  trees  more  famil- 
iar to  our  eyes  in  the  forms  which  art  and  constraint 
have  given,  than  in  their  native  characters. 

Yet  each  species  has  its  characteristic  habit,  so  that 
their  diversities  and  peculiarities  are  to  the  lover  of 
nature  a  perpetual  and  delightful  study.  For  this  pur- 
pose the  bleak  season  of  winter,  which  has  stripped  off 


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the  summer*s  drapery,  offers  peculiar  advantages ;  as  in 
Grecian  art  we  are  most  delighted  with  the  representa- 
tion of  the  human  form  in  its  naked  grace,  strength  and 
beauty  of  proportion. 

**  With  more  than  summer  beauty  fair, 
The  trees  in  winter  garb  are  shown  ; 
What  a  rich  halo  melts  in  air, 

Around  the  crystal  branches  thrown.*' 

Andrew  Norton. 


Let  us  direct  our  attention  to  the  specific  characters  in 
a  few  of  our  common  trees. 

The  Maples  {Acer),  in  their  several  varieties,  are  per- 
haps the  most  acknowledged  favorites  of  all  the  inhab- 
itants of  our  forests.  They  are  indeed  among  the  finest 
of  our  round-headed  trees,  expressive  of  grace,  rather 
than  strength.  Their  limbs,  left  to  their  own  free  voli- 
tion, are  very  evenly  disposed  and  low  growing.  Beautiful 
in  their  clean-cut  tracery  against  a  winter  sky,  as  in  the 


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MAPLE,-ASH,  3g5 

delicate   tints  of   spring,  the    dense  drapery  of  summer, 
or  the  glowing  hues  of  autumn. 

The  Ash  (Fraxinus  Americanus),  is  another  round- 
headed  tree  of  whose  beauty  our  woods  give  little  idea. 
It  rivals  the  tulip  tree  in  size,  but  its  light-green,  loosely- 
pinnated  foliage  is  in  strong  contrast.  It  has  a  very  com- 
pact head,  and  an  air  of  easy  but  somewhat  formal  neg- 

^s7l .  J^xtnus, 

Another  of  our  common  trees,  which  in  regularity  of 
form  nearly  equals  the  maple,  and  surpasses  it  in  the  rich 
verdure  of  its  large,  heart-shaped  leaves,  is  the  Linden, 
Lime  or  Bass-wood  {Tilia).  It  is  comparatively  in  little 
esteem,  but  is  deserving  of  greater  popular  favor.  When 
permitted,  its  lower  limbs  sweep  to  the  earth.  Blossom- 
ing in  mid-summer,  at  a  time  when  most  of  our  trees 
have  passed  the  season  of  bloom,  it  fills  the  air  with  fra- 
grance.    To  the  bees 

"  A  summer  home  of  murmurous  wings." 


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Our  linden  is  less  compact  in  form  than  the  foreign 
species,  but  greatly  its  superior  in  foliage.  As  a  street 
tree  it  is  seldom  seen  with  us,  but  abroad  it  is  a  favorite 
for  avenues, — 

**  The  broad  ambrosial  aisles  of  Jofty  limes," 

as  the  laureate  describes  them. 

One  of  the  most  picturesque  trees  of  our  woodlands 
is  the  Sycamore,  Plane-tree    or  Buttonwood   {Platanus), 

Its  great  size,  the  fantastic  wildness  with  which  it  spreads 
abroad  its  speckled  arms,  its  broad  leaves,  and  its  habit 
of  shedding  the  outer  bark  in  great  scales,  leaving  the 
body  a  lustrous  white,  make  it  a  very  conspicuous  object. 
From  the  difficulty  of  working  its  twisted  fibre,  this 
tree  is  often  left  standing  after  its  companions  are  felled, 
the  solitary  giant  ghost  of  the  clearings.  The  Oriental 
species,   which    closely  resembles  ours,  was    introduced 


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into  England  about  the  middle  of  the  sixteenth  century, 
and  is  now  a  favorite  tree  for  avenues  throughout 
Europe,  while  it  is  seldom  cultivated  with  us.  Its  size 
and  ample  shade  made  the  plane-tree  a  favorite  with  the 
ancients.     It  was  in  academic  groves,  beneath 

"  The  pillar' d  dusk  of  sounding  sycamores," 

that  the  philosophers  of  old  delivered  their  lessons  of 

In  the  deep  alluvion  of  our  river  bottoms  this  tree  at- 
tains enormous  size.  I  remember  in  my  boyhood  seeing 
a  section  of  a  sycamore  brought  from  the  valley  of  the 
Mohawk,  near  Utica,  and  converted  into  a  travelling 
saloon.  Its  hollow  interior  was  fitted  up  with  the  usual 
appurtenances  of  a  grocery,  including  a  stove,  and  a 
dozen  persons  found  standing-room  within.  But  my 
story  is  beaten  by  Pliny,  who  tells  of  a  plane-tree  in 
Lycia   which    measured    eighty-one  feet    circumference. 


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In   this  tree   Licinius,    when   consul,   used   to   entertain 

Few  trees  are  more  strikingly  beautiful  in  youth  and 
grand  in  age  than  the  Beech  {Fagus  sylvestris),  with  its 
wide-spreading,  almost  horizontal  branches,  its  smooth 
bark,  and  its  light-green,  glossy  and  small  but  dense 
foliage.     It  is  the  very  altar  of  love.     Where  but  under 

its  shade  has  the  traditionary  sigh  been  so  often  heaved  ! 
Where  have  lovers  so  often  delighted  to  exchange  their 
vows,  and  on  its 

" trunk's  surviving  frame 

Carv'd  many  a  long-forgotten  name !  ** 

Another  most  elegant  tree  of  our  northern  woods  is  the 
Birch  {Be tula).  The  several  kinds  are  among  the  earliest 
of  our  forest  dwellers  to  put  forth  their  foliage,  delicate 
and  drooping.  The  white  birch,  by  its  silvery  bark,  con- 
trasts brilliantly  with  the  dark  evergreen   forest,  where 


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it  loves  to  dwell.  It  is  also  a  favorite  of  the  poets,  and  is 
not  peculiar  to  America.     Scott  sings  of  climes 

"  Where  weeps  the  birch  with  silver  bark, 
And  long  dishevelled  hair." 

Coleridge  pronounces  it  the  '*  lady  of  the  woods.**  A 
larger  species,  peculiar  to  America,  is  well  known  in  her 
aboriginal  annals,  from  the  use  made  of  its  bark  in  the 

construction  of  the  light,  elegant  and  serviceable  Indian 

Of  all  trees  of  temperate  climes  none  equals  in  majesty 
the  Oak  {Quercus),  the  acknowledged  king  of  the  woods. 
In  variety  of  kinds,  if  not  in  grandeur,  this  country  ex- 
ceeds all  others.  Micheaux  enumerates  forty  indigenous 
species.  Of  these,  at  least  half  exist  in  this  neighbor- 


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The  White  Oak  {Q,  alba)  attains  the  largest  size  and  is 
truly  a  forest  monarch.  Some  idea  of  the  size  attained 
by  the  white  oak  in  the  heavily-wooded  tract  about  De- 
troit may  be  had  from  the  dimensions  of  a  stick  of  tim- 
ber got  out  near  Ecorse  by  one  of  our  ship-builders. 
The  trunk  measured  eighteen  feet  girth,  and  from  it  a 
single  timber  was  squared  to  three  feet  diameter   and 


fifty-five  feet  length.  An  oak  cut  in  my  own  woods, 
back  of  Detroit,  whose  circumference  was  fourteen  feet, 
had  a  length  of  bole  of  sixty  feet  to  the  main  fork,  and 
a  total  length  of  one  hundred  and  twenty  feet.  The 
annular  layers  showed  it  to  be  three  hundred  and  sixty 
years  old,  or  coeval  with  the  discovery  of  America  by 
Columbus  I 

The  Canada  Lumberman  mentions  a  Red  Oak  ((2.  ru- 
brunt),  that  was  being  made  into  beer  barrels  in  1881, 
which  stood  135  feet  from  top  to  toe,  its  girth  being  \^ 
feet  9  inches,   inside   the  bark.     The  stem  was  straight 


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OAKS,  -  WALNUTS.  40 1 

and  branchless  for  66  feet,  and  gave  measurable  timber 
50  feet  above  that.  Not  a  flaw  nor  rotten  hole  disfigured 
this  magnificent  specimen.  Its  age  was  calculated  at 
375  years. 

The  Walnuts(y^^^/<^«j),  including  the  Black  walnut  and 
the  Butternut,  have  strong  claims  upon  our  social  regard. 
Though  resembling  each  other,  the  former  is  much  the 
grander  tree,  its  long  pinnated  leaves  having  greater  ele- 

^lackWdtttUt       Jggptau^ 

gance  of  form,  and  being  more  massively  displayed.  The 
green  of  the  foliage  is  in  fine  contrast  with  the  dark  color 
of  the  trunk  and  branches. 

In  the  strong,  deep  soils  of  Michigan  this  tree  grows  to 
an  immense  size.  One  near  Kalamazoo — I  hope  it  may 
be  there  still — measured,  a  few  years  ago,  thirty-three  feet 
circumference,  at  two  feet  from  the  ground. 

The  pleasing  color  of  the  walnut  lumber,  and  the  ease 
with  which  it  may  be  wrought,  cause  it  to  be  in  deserved 
esteem  for  domestic  architecture.     But  this,  appreciation 


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is  of  modern  growth.  In  a  sparsely  settled  part  of  our 
State  I  once  rested  at  a  tavern  where,  to  my  surprise, 
the  whole  interior,  even  to  the  benches,  was  composed 
of  these  two  costly  walnuts.  Their  harmonious  contrast 
produced  a  very  pleasing  effect.  But  their  beauty  and 
value  were  lost  upon  my  landlord,  for,  perceiving  my  at- 
tention attracted  to   them,  be  remarked,  in  the  way  of 

JoLLctLOT^^  Ccmm  a. 

apology,  that  he  had  been  compelled  to  use  these  mate- 
rials on  account  of  the  scarcity  of  pine  in  that  region ! 

Allied  to  the  walnuts,  in  our  appreciation  of  their  nut- 
ting qualities,  are  the  Hickories  {Caryd).  The  variety 
known  as  shell-bark  is  equally  worthy  of  admiration  for 
its  superb  proportions.  It  is  one  of  the  round-headed 
trees,  but  possesses  greater  dignity  than  most  of  its  class. 
It  rises  in  successive  stories,  as  it  were,  tower-like,  while 
the  limbs  below  sweep  the  earth ;  wearing  in  its  grace 


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a  majesty  that  renders  it  an  object  worthy  the  eye  of  the 
landscape  painter. 

Another  of  our  nut-producing  trees,  the  Chestnut  {Cas- 
ianed),  is  equally  worthy  our  notice  for  its  picturesque- 
ness.     When  growing  upon  the  skirts  of  woods  or  on  the 

lawn,  it  forms  a  grandly  spreading  head,  the  lively  green 
of  its  sharp-spined  leaves  being  in  pleasing  contrast  with 
the  deeper  tint  of  surrounding  foliage.  Whether  in 
flower  or  fruit,  it  is  a  most  striking  object,  a  favorite  for 
all  time  with  poets  and  painters. 

The  American  Poplars  (Populus)^  though  not  favorites 
in  landscape  gardening,  and  of  little  value  in  the  arts, 
are  on  many  accounts   worthy  our    regard.      They  are 


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picturesque  rather  than  graceful.  The  white  bark  of  the 
common  sort  (P,  Canadensis)  gives  variety  and  contrast 
to  the  wood-side,  as  the  incessant  motion  of  the  leaves  of 
the  Aspen  (P,  tremuloides)  gives  animation.  It  is  to  be 
prized  also  for  the  earliness  of  its  spring  garb  and  tas- 
selled  flowers.  Some  of  the  species,  as  the  Cottonwood, 
are  among  the  largest  of  our  Western  trees,  sturdy  and 
majestic,  while  the  Balsam  has  an  element  of  the  beauti- 
ful, in  the  droop  of  its  spray. 

Our  Scientific  Museum  possesses  two  sections  of  a  Cot- 
tonwood, from  Lapeer  County,  7  and  5  feet  diameter  re- 
spectively. The  tree  was  140  feet  high,  10  feet  diameter 
at  base,  and  three  feet  diameter  at  a  height  of  50  feet. 
Its  annular  rings  number  188. 

None  of  our  native  Willows  {Salix)  will  compare  in 
striking  characteristics  with  those  foreign  sorts,  the  weep- 
ing and  the  golden.     Nevertheless  our  willow  is  in   cer- 


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tain  situations  full  of  a  beauty  of  its  own.  It  shows  to 
best  advantage  skirting  our  rivers  and  ponds.     Here 

*' it  dips 

Its  pendent  boughs,  stooping  as  if  to  drink.** 

The  low-growing  bushes  display  their  long,  lance-shaped 
leaves  in  star-like  clusters,  making  a  charming  fringe  to 
the  water's  edge. 

"  Eternal  greens  the  mossy  margins  grace, 
Watch*d  by  the  sylvan  genius  of  the  place." 

I  would  not  fail  to  notice  in  this  association  of  North- 
ern trees,  the  Peperidge  (Nyssa),  a  tree  little  known  to 
fanciers,  but  of  rare  merit.  It  has  a  habit  of  disposing  its 
limbs  horizontally,  this  disposition  being  carried  out  even 
to  the  top,  which  is  often  flat,  like  a  table.  Its  leaves, 
though  small,  are  very  green  and  glossy,  and  in  autumn 


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change  to  a  brilliant  purple  and  scarlet,  making  it  one  of 
the  most  striking  objects  at  that  gay  season.  Our  Wood- 
mere  Cemetery  has  many  fine  native  specimens. 

In  its  combination  of  magnificence  and  grace  no  tree 
of  our  land  equals  the  White  Elm  {Uhnus  Americana), 
The  European  sort,  though  of  grand  proportion,  is  rigid, 
and  lacks  both  the  regularity  of  outline  and  droop  of 
spray.  This  difference  in  character  may  be  observed  on 
Boston  Common,  where  are  rows  of  very  perfect  old 
English  elms. 

The  habit  of  the  American  species  is  to  divide  into 
many  branches,  which,  commencing  at  a  few  feet  from 
the  ground,  rise  at  first  in  a  compact  body,  and  gradually 
curve  outwards,  the  head  forming  an  umbel,  which  ter- 
minates in  clusters  of  long,  pendent  spray.  These  sway 
gracefully  in  the  winds,  and,  if  allowed  to  do  so,  will 
brush  the  earth  with  masses  of  small  but  thickly  tufted 
leaves.  In  my  admiration  of  this  magnificent  tree  I 
would  exclaim  with  Cowper, 

"Could  a  mind  imbued 
With  truth  from  Heaven,  created  thing  adore, 
I  might  with  reverence  kneel  and  worship  thee,** 

O  thou  American  Elm  ! 

The  elm  has  this  notable  peculiarity,  that  it  is  alike 
graceful,  whether  allowed  to  spread  freely,  or  so  hemmed 
in  as  to  cause  it  to  branch  at  a  great  height  from  the 

It  is  pleasant  to  know  that  this  beauty  and  magnifi- 
cence do  not  pass  generally  unrecognized,  as  is  testified 
by  many  fine  specimens  in  private  grounds,  and  along 
highways,  gothic-arched,  and  by  many  of  a  past  century, 
spared  by  the  axe,  and  left  to  adorn  the  pastures  through 
the  Northern  and  Eastern  States. 


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I  recall  an  individual  in  this  vicinity,  well  known  for 
its  magnificence, — the  Lafferty  elm.  It  was  situated  on 
the  river  road,  in  what  was  then  part  of  the  town  of 
Springwells.  It  is  known  to  have  been  planted  a  few 
years  before  the  close  of  the  last  century,  and  was  a  strik- 
ing example  of  the  brief  period  required  by  the  elm  to 
produce  a  respectable  shade.  In  1864  the  trunk  meas- 
ured, at  four  feet  from  the  ground,  ten  feet  circumfer- 
ence, which  dimension  it  held  to  the  commencement  of 

the  limbs.  At  ten  feet  the  stem  parted  into  seven 
branches,  each  of  which  was  in  size  a  considerable  tree. 
It  stood  within  the  fence,  and  its  limbs  extended  across 
the  road,  a  distance  of  more  than  fifty  feet,  so  that 
the  entire  spread  must  have  exceeded  100  feet.  One 
by  one  its  seven  limbs  were  ruthlessly  cut  away  by  the 
axe,  and  finally  the  main  trunk  succumbed  to  the  iron 
march  of  improvement.     The  tree  was  still  in  the  vigor 


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of  three  score  years  and  ten,  and  might  have  continued 
for  centuries,  with  increasing  honors  and  usefulness,  the 
glory  of  the  neighborhood. 

With  a  few  words  about  the  evergreen  trees  of  our 
Northern  forests  I  shall  close  these  desultory  sketches. 

The  world  affords  no  timber  more  beautiful,  as  well  as 
useful,  than  the  pines,  hemlocks,  spruces  and  cedars  that 
grow  so  luxuriantly  in  the  northern  portions  of  our  State. 
What  a  majesty  they  add,  not  unmingled  with  awe,  to 
the  deep  woodland.     We  recognize  Milton's  picture, — 

**  Overhead  upgrew 
Insuperable  height  of  loftiest  shade, 
Cedar  and  pine  and  fir,  a  sylvan  scene, 
And  as  the  ranks  ascend,  shade  above  shade, 
A  woody  theatre  of  stateliest  view." 

As  we  penetrate  the  profound  depths,  and  listen  to  the 
murmurs — most  musical,  most  melancholy — struck  out 
by  that  grand  old  harper,  the  wind,  from  their  branches, 
we  catch  the  poet's  enthusiasm, 

"  Cover  me,  ye  pines  1 
Ye  cedars,  with  innumerable  boughs  1'* 

To  the  more  practical  mind  the  consideration  presents 
itself,  how  useful  would  be  this  density  of  foliage  if 
transferred  to  the  borders  of  our  fields,  as  a  shelter 
against  the  blighting  winds. 

Our  White  Pine  (Pinus  s^roius)— the  great  tree  of  the 
timber  district — lacks  the  sturdy  aspect  of  the  Scotch 
and  Austrian,  but  is  even  more  grandly  majestic,  and 
more  regular  in  outline.  Its  foliage  is  of  very  pleasing 
green,  unchanged  by  the  severest  winter. 

Of  the  Hemlock  {Abies  Canadensis)  it  is  safe  to  say, 
that  it  surpasses  all  the  evergreens,  as  well  for  size  as  in 
the  elegance  of  its  feathery  foliage  and  thick  but  slender 


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spray.  In  the  first  few  weeks  of  spring  growth,  the 
lighter  tint  of  the  new  leaves,  pendent  from  the  ends  of 
the  branches  like  strings  of  emeralds,  make  it  the  jew- 
elled queen  of  the  arboretum.  Yet  this  most  graceful  of 
evergreens  is  seldom  seen  in  American  lawns  and  door- 
yards,  where  foreign  kinds  are  of  common  occurrence. 

There  is  an  old  adage  wMch  says  that  "  he  who  plants 
pears  plants  for  his  heirs,**  and  many  a  man  is  restrained 
from  setting  out  forest  trees  from  the  conviction  that  life 
is  not  long  enough  to  enable  him  to  enjoy  their  benefits. 
Now,  aside  from  the  fact  that  this  is  a  selfish  considera- 
tion, it  is  not  true  that  most  trees  are  of  so  slow  growth. 
Some  items  may  here  be  given  from  my  limited  experi- 

In  1856  I  transplanted  into  my  grounds  several  trees 
of  different  kinds  from  the  neighboring  woods.  Among 
these  were  an  elm  and  a  red  maple.  I  measured  these  at 
intervals  of  ten  years,  with  the  following  results  :  When 
planted  each  measured,  at  four  feet  from  the  ground, 
eight  inches  diameter.  In  1866  the  elm  measured  one 
foot  six  inches,  the  maple  one  foot  ten  inches.  In  1876 
the  elm  measured  two  feet,  the  maple  two  feet  eight 
inches  diameter.* 

Thus  each  tree  had  in  the  first  decade  considerably 
more  than  doubled  in  diameter  of  trunk,  and  at  the  end 
of  the  second  the  elm  had  trebled,  and  the  maple 
quadrupled  the  original  girth.  If  we  reduce  the  meas- 
urements to  cubic  contents  we  should  find  that  each 
tree  had  increased  in  20  years  to  more  than  16  times 
its  first    bulk.     In    fact    the    maple   nearly    doubled    in 

♦  In  1886  the  elm  had  increased  to  two  feet  five  inches,  and  the  maple 
to  three  feet  three  inches  diameter, 


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size  each  year.  The  trees  are  now  (1877)  over  60  feet 
in  height,  and  have  a  spread  of  limb  fully  as  great.  In 
each  the  lower  branches  bend  quite  to  the  earth,  form- 
ing complete  bowers. 

This  growth  is  by  no  means  exceptional.  That  of 
smaller  and  younger  trees  far  exceeds  this,  and  I  men- 
tion the  instance  rather  to  show  with  what  rapidity  a 
fine  shade  and  ornament  may  be  obtained  for  the  door- 
yard,  from  one  or  two  specimen  trees  only. 

A  dozen  or  more  trees,  planted  on  Vinewood  Avenue, 
increased  in  eighteen  years  from  about  three  inches 
diameter  to  an  average  of  seventeen  or  eighteen  inches ; 
six  times  the  original  measurement,  and  thirty-six  times 
the  actual  size. 

All  were  excelled  in  rapidity  of  growth  by  a  black 
walnut;  a  mere  whip-stock  when  planted,  but  twenty 
years  afterward'  a  lofty  tree,  with  a  trunk  four  feet  in 
circumference.  Assuming  its.  diameter  when  set  to 
have  been  two  inches,  it  had  increased  to  sixty-four  times 
its  original  size,  trebling  each  year,  and  that,  too,  on  a 
soil  of  light  sand.  How  speedily  at  this  rate  may  a 
forest  be  grown,  and  with  what  immense  profit,  within 
an  ordinary  lifetime.* 

The  planting  of  all  our  roadways  is  one  of  the  readi- 
est means  of  obtaining  the  results  derived  from  the 
presence  of  trees,  with  the  least  expense  or  loss  to  culti- 
vable land.  By  this  means  may  be  secured,  at  frequent 
intervals,  belts  for  shelter  to  the  fields,  while  a  grateful 
shade  is  afforded  to  man  and  beast,  and  travel  rendered 
a  delight  rather  than  a  torture. 

European  travellers  have  noticed  the  little  care  taken 

*  This  tree  is  now  (1886)  six  feet  circumference. 


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to  preserve  the  finest  specimens  of  our  native  trees  in  the 
country  ;  while  they  speak  with  admiration  of  the  pains 
taken  to  adorn  our  cities  with  handsome  avenues.  And 
here  truly  their  social  influence  is  widely  felt. 

"  But  rising  from  the  dust  of  busy  streets 

These  forest  children  gladden  many  hearts ; 
As  some  old  friend  their  welcome  presence  greets 

The  toil-worn  soul,  and  fresher  life  imparts. 
Their  shade  is  doubly  grateful  when  it  lies 

Above  the  glare  which  stifling  walls  throw  back ; 
Through  quivering  leaves  we  see  the  soft  blue  skies, 
Then  happier  tread  the  dull,  unvaried  track." 

Alice  B.  Neal. 

I  have  not  yet  noticed  another  aspect  in  which  trees 
have  their  value,  namely,  as  scavengers  of  the  atmosphere. 

But  for  them  the  air  would  become  loaded  with  an 
injurious  amount  of  carbonic  acid,  an  element  destructive 
to  animal  life.  Especially  in  cities,  and  amid  the  settle- 
ments of  man.  is  this  protection  desirable.  The  respira- 
tion of  men  and  animals,  the  consumption  of  fuel,  and  other 
sources,  pour  into  the  atmosphere  continually  carbonic 
acid.  Growing  plants  assimilate  the  carbon,  replacing 
it  with  oxygen,  the  source  of  life  and  energy..  This  re- 
sult the  leaves  accomplish  ;  but  the  roots  also  have  their 
part  in  the  purifying  process,  by  taking  up  the  noxious 
products  of  fermentation  with  which  the  gutters  are 

Paris  is  said  now  to  have  so  large  a  number  of  parks, 
and  its  streets  and  boulevards  are  so  profusely  shaded 
with  trees,  that  the  death  rate  has  been  thereby  reduced 
from  one  in  24  to  one  in  39.* 

Where  there  is  plenty  of  growing  foliage  there  is  no 

*  Scientific  Monthly y  April,  1875. 


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malaria.  The  project  of  Garibaldi  to  restore  the  deadly 
Campagna,  by  planting  the  rapid-growing  eucalyptus, 
has  been  called  wild,  but  it  is  entirely  practical. 

Can  the  laws  be  too  cogent,  not  merely  for  the  en- 
couragement of  planting,  but  in  punishment  for  unnec- 
essary destruction  !  Especially  should  the  value  and 
uses  of  trees  be  made  to  enter  into  the  education  of  the 
rising  generation. 

Last  spring  I  set  out  a  row  of  50  vigorous  young  sap- 
lings along  a  public  street.  Before  the  end  of  the  sea- 
son not  one  had  escaped  the  knife  or  hatchet,  all  being 
injured  and  some  killed.  The  act  was  undoubtedly  one 
of  youthful  wantonness.  But  how  much  more  apprecia- 
tion is  exhibited  by  boys  of  larger  growth  ?  Year  by  year 
our  streets  lose  some  of  their  finest  ornaments,  never  to 
be  regained.  Many  are  suffered  to  be  gnawed  to  death 
by  horses.  Some  perish  by  the  needless  cutting  off  of 
roots  by  careless  workmen,  in  the  laying  of  walks  and 
drains ;  others  by  rights  heedlessly  accorded  to  paving 
contractors,  gas  companies  and  others,  for  digging  up 
the   streets   and  walks  at  will,  regardless  of  the  trees. 

There  would  even  seem  to  be  in  some  minds  an  innate 
hostility  to  these  lovely  products  of  Nature.  I  am  dis- 
posed to  think  such  are  actuated  by  an  instinct,  legiti- 
mately descended  from  some  ancestor  who  had  reason 
for  his  hatred.     For  thus  saith  the  poet, — 

"  Indulgent  Nature  on  each  race  bestows 
A  secret  instinct  to  discern  its  foes : 
The  goose — a  silly  bird— still  shuns  the  fox, 
Lambs  fly  from  wolves,  and  sailors  steer  from  rocks, 
The  rogue  a  gallows  as  his  fate  foresees. 
And  bears  a  like  antipathy  to  trees." 


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Great  men  of  all  ages  have  loved  trees,  and  have  ever 
paid  them  a  kind  of  devotion. 

Alexander  had  his  favorite  among  them,  which,  in 
moments  of  unambitious  retirement,  he  treated  with 
the  endearment  of  a  child. 

The  good  Oberlin,  whose  moral  instructions  and  pa- 
ternal care  over  the  flock  of  which  he  was  pastor  pre- 
served among  a  people  shut  up  in  the  fastnesses  of 
Switzerland  a  character  of  piety  and  sober  industry, 
while  Europe  was  agitated  with  scenes  of  moral  and 
civil  discord,  inculcated  the  raising  of  trees  as  a  religious 

Many  Eastern  sages — among  them  the  wise  Zoroaster 
— made  arboriculture  a  precept  of  religion. 

In  such  estimation  were  trees  held  by  many  ancient 
legislators,  that  particular  species  were  consecrated  to 
the  several  divinities  which  the  country  worshipped. 
Under  their  hallowed  shade  were  the  national  rites  per- 
formed, and  sacrifices  to  the  deity  accepted.  In  these 
sylvan  retreats  the  gods  condescended  to  hold  inter- 
course with  mortals. 

The  delicate  fancies  of  the  classic  poets  delighted  to 
associate  with  the  life  of  trees  such  imaginary  forms  as 
the  elves,  the  dryads,  the  fawns,  and  other  sylvan  b&ings, 
whose  lives  were  commensurate  with  that  of  the  tree 
which  each  inhabited. 

Though  our  purer  faith  has  discarded  such  notions, 
the  general  advance  of  knowledge  has  given  us  even 
stronger  ground  for  reverence  and  love.  Botanical 
science  has  revealed  so  great  a  similarity  between  the 
vegetable  and  animal,  that  it  is  hard  to  tell  where  the 
one  nature  ends  and  the  other  begins.  In  fact,  some 
vegetables  possess  a  complexity  and  delicacy  of  organ- 


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ism,  an  exquisite  adaptation  of  every  part,  and  even  a  de- 
gree of  instinct,  which  do  not  belong  to  the  lower  order 
of  animals.  So  far,  science  confirms  the  imagination  of 
the  poet ;  for  to  her  eye,  as  to  his — though  in  a  larger 
and  better  sense — the  tree  becomes  a  sentient  being. 
It  is  but  a  step  from  this  to  a  consciousness  on  its  part 
of  our  care  and  homage. 

When  we  transplant  a  sapling  from  the  forest,  and  set 
it  down  in  our  own  door-yard,  it  is  as  if  we  had  tamed  a 
wild  animal,  and  made  one  more  pet  for  our  household. 
An  untutored  savage  has  been  converted  into  a  domestic, 
and  become  attached  to  us  by  a  tie  of  relationship. 
Henceforth  a  new  friend  is  added  to  our  list,  whose 
character  is  being  yearly  developed  beneath  our  eyes. 

Let  Americans  then  cherish  with  pride  the  trees  of 
their  native  land.  While  we  look  with  rapture  upon 
their  grace  of  outline,  the  proud  dignity  of  their  rough 
bodies  and  lofty  limbs,  the  rich  green  of  their  foliage  in 
summer,  or  its  rainbow  beauty  in  autumn  ;  while  we  en- 
joy their  refreshing  shade,  and  are  made  better  by  their 
companionship;  above  all  when  we  go  forth  to 

The  wide  old  wood  from  his  majestic  rest, 
Summoning  from  the  innumerable  boughs 
The  strange  deep  harmonies  that  haunt  his  breast," 

let  it  be  a  duty  to  see  to  their  healthful  preservation,  to 
study  their  habits  and  virtues,  and  to  encourage  the 
public  appreciation. 

There  is  a  moral  to  the  fable  of  the  dryads,  for  trees 
are  the  guardian  genii  of  the  places  they  inhabit. 
Associated  with  our  earliest  youth,  they  never  cease  to 
interest,  while  our  sense  of  their  benefits  increases  with 
advancing    years.     Though    what    we   now   plant    may 


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Trees  as  friends.  4 1 5 

come  to  maturity  only  after  we  shall  have  ceased  to  be- 
hold them,  we  know  that  they  will  gladden  the  eyes  even 
of  our  children's  children,  and  that  we  leave  behind  us 
living  monuments,  that  shall  bear  our  memories  to  pos- 
terity when  we  are  beneath  the  sod  whicl 
and  adorn. 


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Part  I. 

WITHIN  a  few  years  the  science  of  meteorology 
has  made  great  progress  under  organized  corps 
of  observers.  It  is  fair  'to  state  that  while  I  make  use  of 
all  the  resources  within  my  reach,  in  the  preparation  of. 
this  paper,  its  conclusions  are  based  mainly  upon  inde- 
pendent observations,  drawn  from  my  records  of  the  last 
thirty-nine  years.  Little  of  merit  as  these  may  claim, 
compared  with  the  more  strict  deductions  of  the  scientist, 
they  may,  like  the  observations  of  almost  any  lover  of 
nature,  serve  to  set  facts  in  some  new  light,  or  new  com- ' 
bination,  and  thus  have  a  practical  value. 

That  the  immense  bodies  of  water  known  as  the  Great 
Lakes  affect  the  climate  of  this  region  is  well  known  ; 
but  the  nature  and  extent  of  their  influence  are  yet  but 
little  familiar  to  the  popular  mind.  Indeed,  with  all  the 
advance  in  the  science  of  weather,  the  data  for  scientific 
determinations  have  been  and  still  are  very  scanty. 

The  controlling  element  in  all  climates  is  temperature. 
The  direction  and  strength  of  winds,  and  the  amount  of 
moisture  descending  in  rain,  mist  and  snow,  are  sources 
of  modification,  or  results,  rather  than  chief  causes. 
Though  the  temperature  of  any  locality  depends  mainly 
upon  general  astronomical  causes,  felt  all  around  the  globe, 

♦  Read  before  the  Detroit  Scientific  Association,  1874. 



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it  is  also  known  that  local  causes  have  a  very  considerable 
share  in  the  production  of  climate.  Thus,  the  seasons  on 
this  continent  differ  greatly  from  those  of  the  same  lati- 
tudes in  Europe,  being  hotter  in  summer  and  colder  in 
winter.  Our  spring  and  autumn  also  differ  from  theirs 
in  duration,  and  in  other  characteristics. 

General  facts  like  these  I  assume  without  going  into 
the  wide  field  of  explanation.  They  and  their  causes 
are  familiar  to  you. 

I  shall  also  assume  as  well  known  the  fact  that  iso- 
thermal lines,  or  lines  drawn  through  places  of  equal  tem- 
perature over  the  United  States,  by  no  means  conform  to 
the  latitude,  but  are  deflected  north  or  south  by  local 
causes,  and  that  among  these  the  Great  Lakes  have  a 
prominent  importance. 

The  winter  isothermal  lines  are  deflected  northerly,  and 
the  summer  lines  southerly,  in  approaching  these  bodies 
of  water.  In  other  words,  their  vicinity  is  warmer  in 
winter  and  cooler  in  summer  than  places  in  the  same 
parallel  removed  from  them,  except  in  the  immediate 
vicinity  of  the  ocean. 

These  general  facts  I  shall  endeavor  to  render  more 
clear  by  means  of  a  chart.  Instead  of  the  usual  method 
of  delineating  the  isotherms  in  a  regular  series  of  degrees 
of  temperature,  I  have  taken  only  the  means,  in  summer 
and  in  winter,  of  certain  places  specially  important  to 
my  purpose,  and  carry  the  isotherms  of  these  degrees 
across  the  region  of  the  lakes,  from  the  Atlantic  to  the 
Mississippi.  For  instance,  Detroit  has  a  mean  summer 
temperature  of  67  deg.  and  a  mean  winter  temperature 
of  26  deg."*^ 

*  See  Part  11.—"  Additional  Observations  "—for  an  increase  in  both  sum- 
mer and  winter  means,  since  the  above  was  written, 


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Observers  will  notice  the  summer  isothermal  of  67  de- 
grees, commencing  at  the  sea-coast  at  Cape  Cod.  It 
passes  a  few  miles  up  the  coast  and  thence  inland  to  a 
lower  latitude  in  Central  Massachusetts.  From  thence 
it  rises  rather  suddenly  into  and  along  the  Valley  of  Lake 
Champlain,  almost  to  Quebec.  Here  it  divides,  passing 
southerly.  One  branch  between  Albany  and  Utica  is 
carried  into  high  lands  of  Pennsylvania,  whence  it  rises 
again  toward  Buffalo,  and  west  through  Lake  Erie. 
The  other  follows  Montreal  River  and  south  shore  of 
Lake  Ontario  and  north  shore  of  Lake  Erie,  uniting 
with  the  former  at  Detroit.  From  here  it  bears  northerly 
into  the  Peninsula  almost  two  degrees  of  latitude,  until, 
feeling  the  cool  waters  of  Lake  Michigan,  it  loops  sud- 
denly down  toward  Chicago.  Curving  thence  upward 
along  the  western  coast,  it  leaves  the  lake  at  a  point 
some  miles  north  of  Milwaukee,  but  at  a  lower  point 
than  on  the  eastern  coast.  Its  course  is  now  rapidly 
northward,  until  it  reaches  the  parallel  of  46  degrees,  in 
longitude  95  degrees,  a  little  north  and  west  of  St.  Paul. 
•  From  the  parallel  of  42  deg.  on  the  Atlantic  it  has 
passed  through  4  deg.  of  latitude,  or  about  280  miles, 
in  its  approach  to  the  Western  plains.  Over  these,  pass- 
ing westward,  it  rises  to  a  much  higher  parallel. 

The  cooling  effect  of  the  lakes  upon  the  summer  heat 
is  here  strikingly  shown.  Detroit  has  a  lower  mean  sum- 
mer temperature  than  Montreal  and  Quebec,  although 
the  latter  is  nearly  five  degrees  further  north. 

St.  Paul  is  hotter  than  Chicago,  3  deg.  south. 

The  isothermal  of  the  mean  winter  temperature  of 
Detroit  (26^)  exhibits  equal  aberrations.  Commencing  at 
the  sea-coast  about  latitude  43  deg.,  and  coursing  first 
south  and  then  up  the  Hudson  to  Albany,  it    is  thence 


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pressed  rapidly  to  the  south  and  along  the  AUeghenies, 
down  to  the  parallel  of  40  deg.  Thence  it  sweeps 
northerly  to  Buffalo,  whence  it  passes  west  across  Lake 
Erie,  loops  up  into  Lake  Huron,  down  to  Detroit,  and 
thence  rapidly  south-west  into  Indiana.  It  thence 
again  loops  upward  and  far  into  Lake  Michigan,  sweep- 
ing the  easterly  coast.  Turning  sharply  thence  to 
Chicago  it  trends  rapidly  to  the  south-west,  and  strikes 
the  Missouri  at  about  the  parallel  of  40  deg. 

From  its  lowest  depression,  at  this  point,  to  its  high- 
est, at  the  lakes,  it  has  passed  through  four  degrees  of 
latitude,  showing  admirably  the  warming  influence  of  the 
lakes  upon  the  winter  cold  of  this  zone. 

Let  us  now  take  a  more  northerly  point  and  follow  the 
isotherms  of  Sault  St.  Marie  and  Marquette,  which  have 
each  a  summer  mean  of  62  deg.  and  a  winter  of  18  deg. 

You  see  by  the  chart  how  the  summer  mean  of  62  deg. 
bends  south  from  its  high  latitude,  north  of  Quebec,  well 
down  into  Lake  Huron,  and  that  passing  thence  into 
Lake  Superior  it  trends  still  more  rapidly  to  the  north. 
Between  the  meridians  of  70  deg.  and  95  deg.  it  hcis 
ranged  through  5  deg.  of  latitude,  or  350  miles. 

The  winter  mean  of  18  deg.  shows  still  more  compli- 
cated irregularities,  though  not  so  wide  a  divergence.  It 
has  its  most  southerly  deflections  in  Massachusetts  and 
Minnesota,  about  latitude  44  deg.,  and  its  most  northerly 
at  the  coast  of  Lake  Superior,  in  latitude  47  deg.,  a  range 
of  3  deg. 

Take  now  some  point  south  of  Michigan,  say  the  city 
of  New  York,  which  has  a  summer  mean  of  72  deg.,  and 
a  winter  of  31  deg. 

The  isotherm  of  72  deg.  follows  down  the  AUeghenies 
as  far   south   as   the  parallel  of  38  deg.  ;. thence  bears 


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rapidly  north-west  to  Dubuque,  ranging  through  nearly 
five  degrees  of  latitude.  You  cannot  fail  to  observe  how 
it  loops  up  into  the  peninsula  of  Michigan  as  far  north  as 
Detroit,  but  bears  away  from  the  near  vicinity  of  the 
lakes,  where  the  summer  means  are  cooler  by  4  or  5  degs. 

The  winter  isotherm  of  32  degs.,  commencing  at  the 
sea-coast  near  New  York,  flanks  the  AUeghenies  through 
several  degrees  of  latitude,  southerly,  thence  curves  up- 
wards towards  the  lakes,  as  far  north  as  Columbus,  Ohio, 
and  thence  again  bends  southerly,  until  it  strikes  the 
Missouri  west  of  and  about  the  latitude  of  St.  Louis,  a 
range  of  less  than  three  degrees.  Both  these  isotherms 
are  too  distant  to  be  as  much  affected  by  the  lakes  as 
those  first  noticed. 

These  few  observations  perhaps  sufficiently  illustrate 
this  part  of  our  subject,  though  they  by  no  means  show 
all  the  divergences  and  irregularities  to  which  many  of 
the  isothermals  of  this  latitude  are  subject. 

Our  locality,  though  so  greatly  modified  in  several 
aspects  of  its  climate  by  the  presence  of  the  Great  Lakes, 
falls  within  the  general  system  which  prevails  throughout 
the  temperate  zone  on  this  continent. 

It  will  be  remembered  that  the  lakes  do  not  occupy 
valleys,  as  many  suppose,  nor  do  they  fill  gorges  among 
mountains.  On  the  contrary,  there  are  no  very  elevated 
lands  on  or  near  their  borders,  but  the  region  is  rather  a 
vast  plain  than  a  valley.  The  planes  of  ascent  from 
their  surface  sare  very  moderate,  the  levels  which  sepa- 
rate the  streams  that  discharge  into  the  lakes  from  those 
which  discharge  into  the  Atlantic  or  Gulf  of  Mexico  be- 
ing broad  and  low,  rather  plateaus  than  hills. 

Were  these  bodies  of  water  dry  land,  of  the  same  ele- 


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vation,  there  would  exist  no  conditions  tending  to  de- 
flect the  isothermal  lines  from  their  regular  curves  from 
the  great  plains  to  the  Atlantic.  But  so  large  a  surface  of 
water — warmer  in  winter  and  cooler  in  summer  than  the 
land — does  very  sensibly  affect  the  temperature  of  the 
atmosphere  which  passes  over  them,  and  as  tempera- 
ture is  the  governing  element  of  climate,  the  character 
of  the  season  is  essentially  modified  through  their  in- 
fluence. The  effect  is  to  equalize  the  temperature  over 
a  considerable  area,  and  to  soften  the  extremes. 

This  modification  of  the  climate  may  be  made  further 
apparent  by  a  comparison  of  the  mean  range  of  tempera- 
ture of  the  months  for  a  series  of  years,  at  different  posts 
of  observation  in  this  latitude. 

Thus,  while  the  mean  temperature  of  the  year  does 
not  vary  greatly  for  the  lake  borders  and  places  500 
miles  distant,  east  and  west,  on  the  same  parallel,  the 
temperature  at  the  latter  falls  to  a  lower  mean  in  winter, 
or  rises  to  a  higher  one  in  summer,  or  both.  The  mean 
of  the  year  at  Detroit  and  through  New  York  and  New 
England,  on  the  same  parallel  (47  deg.  to  48  deg.),  differs 
only  about  one  degree ;  but  the  mean  range,  that  is,  the 
increase  from  February,  when  the  rising  scale  begins, 
until  it  commences  to  decline,  in  July,  is  at  Albany  and 
Amherst  4.5  deg.  greater  ;  the  means  rising  from  a  range 
of  43  deg.  during  that  period  at  Detroit,  to  47.5  deg.  at 
the  other  places. 

Westward,  this  feature  is  still  more  conspicuous.  At 
Battle  Creek,  due  west  from  Detroit,  and  about  equidis- 
tant from  lakes  Erie  and  Michigan,  we  find  a  mean  range 
10  deg.  greater  than  in  Detroit ;  the  mean  of  the  year  be- 
ing only  a  little  more  than  i  deg.  higher.  At  Dubuque 
the  difference  is  12  deg.      At  St.  Paul  (2  deg.  of  lati- 


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tude  farther  north)  it  is  16  deg.  The  mean  of  the  year 
being  at  Dubuque  2  deg.  higher,  and  at  St.  Paul  3  deg. 
lower  than  here,  while  the  winter  at  Dubuque  is  4  deg. 
colder,  and  the  summer  4.5  deg.  warmer  than  Detroit. 

The  mean  temperature  of  each  of  the  three  winter 
months  at  Detroit  is  nearly  the  same,  and  varies  but 
little  from  the  general  winter  mean  of  27  deg.  At  the 
other  places  named,  on  the  same  parallel,  the  lowest 
mean  is  not  reached  until  some  time  in  January  ;  but 
the  temperature  begins  to  rise  from  that  month  onward, 
and  merges  more  rapidly  into  the  heats  of  summer. 

The  difference  between  the  means  of  January  and 
March  at  Detroit  is  7  deg.  At  other  places  east,  in 
the  same  latitude,  it  is  9  to  10  deg.  The  same  differ- 
ence is  found  at  Battle  Creek  ;  scarcely  less  at  Chicago  ; 
while  at  Dubuque  it  rises  to  15  deg.,  and  at  St.  Paul  to 
18  deg. 

Equally  marked  is  the  rapid  increase  of  temperature 
from  March  to  May.  At  Detroit  the  advance  does  not 
exceed  22  deg.  At  Utica,  Albany  and  Amherst  it  ex- 
ceeds 25  deg.  A  like  increase  obtains  at  Battle  Creek 
and  Chicago,  and  at  Dubuque  and  St.  Paul  it  reaches 
28  deg. 

The  maximum  summer  heat  is  attained  in  July  in  this 
latitude ;  the  mean  of  that  month  being  about  2  deg. 
above  the  summer  mean  at  Detroit  and  eastward,  and 
about  3  deg.  at  places  westward. 

Thence  the  decline  into  autumn  is  very  gradual  until 
September,  the  temperature  of  August  corresponding 
nearly  with  the  means  of  summer  throughout  (69  deg.), 
and  that  of  September  ranging  from  6  deg.  to  8  deg. 

From  September  the  decline  is  more  rapid,  but  regular 


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to  October,  which  represents  the  means  of  the  autumn 
quite  closely  (50  deg). 

The  decline  from  the  means  of  summer  to  those  of  au- 
tumn varies  from  18  deg.  to  20  deg.,  being  a  difference 
of  about  2  deg.  only  for  the  different  places  named  on 
this  parallel.  But  the  decline  from  autumn  to  winter, 
which  is  but  20  deg.  at  Lake  Erie,  ranges  to  24  deg.  at 
the  interior  stations  east,  and  to  30  deg.  at  Dubuque,  and 
at  Battle  Creek  to  27  deg. 

These  results  show  the  effect  of  the  lakes,  first,  in  a 
modification  of  the  extremes,  causing  a  difference  of 
several  degrees  in  the  means  of  both  summer  and  winter 
near  their  borders. 

Second,  in  a  prolongation  of  spring  on  the  lake  bor- 
ders. Here  the  temperature  of  April  represents  nearly 
the  mean  of  spring.  At  Battle  Creek,  April  is  about  4 
deg.  above  the  mean  of  spring,  and  at  Dubuque  April 
has  nearly  reached  the  mean  of  May  at  Detroit. 

Third,  in  a  prolongation  of  autumn  or  more  gradual 
descent  into  winter.  In  December,  places  on  this  par- 
allel in  New  York,  Massachusetts  and  Central  Michigan 
have  reached  the  winter  mean  of  Detroit,  but  still  want 
two  or  three  degrees  of  their  own  winter  mean.  Du- 
buque in  December  has  reached  a  point  2  deg.  lower 
than  the  winter  mean  of  Detroit. 

Fourth,  in  a  modification  of  single  extremes.  The 
maximum  noted  by  me  in  thirty  years'  observation,  at 
and  near  Detroit,  is  94  deg.,  the  minimum  — 18  deg.  Very 
rarely  does  the  mercury  fall  below  — 10  deg.  in  any  winter, 
the  above  extreme  of — 18  deg.  having  occurred  only 
twice  during  the  period. 

During  the  same   period   in   Central   New  York   and 


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Massachusetts  the  maximum  has  reached  above  100  deg. 
and  the  minimum — 34  deg.,  the  Detroit  minimum  of 
— 18  deg.  having  occurred  on  an  average  once  in  every 
two  winters.* 

Such  severe  extremes  are  often  sudden  and  very  tem- 
porary, and  afford  little  indication  of  the  general  char- 
acter of  the  seasons.  Nevertheless,  they  are  an  impor- 
tant element  in  our  estimate,  and  often  attest  the  capa- 
bility, or  otherwise,  of  any  given  climate  for  the  growing 
of  the  more  tender  plants. 

The  character  of  our  seasons  as  shown  by  these  com- 
parisons of  temperature  may  be  stated  thus  in  general 
terms : 

The  winter  of  Detroit  is  warmer  than  that  of  places  in 
the  same  latitude  in  Central  New  York,  Massachusetts 
and  Michigan,  by  at  least  two  degrees,  and  is  4.5  deg. 
warmer  than  the  mean  five  hundred  miles  west. 

Spring  is  4  deg.  colder,  than  the  central  positions  men- 
tioned, and  the  increase  from  March  to  May  is  more 

Summeris  cooler  than  on  the  parallel  east  by  i  deg.  to 
2  deg. ;  than  Central  Michigan  by  3  deg.,  and  the  more 
westerly  positions  by  4.5  deg. 

Autumn  is  cooler  by  i  deg.  than  the  points  east ;  by  2 
deg.  than  Central  Michigan,  and  by  4  deg.  than  the  west- 
erly posts ;  and  the  decline  of  heat  is  less  rapid  through 
the  autumn  months. 

These  favorable  modifications  of  the  prevailing  climate 
of  this  region  are  still  more  strongly  impressed  upon  the 
eastern  than  the  western  borders  of  the  lakes,  in  conse- 
quence of   the  prevailing  westerly  winds,  which  distrib- 

*  But  see  Part  II. — "  Additional  Observations." 


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ute  over  the  land  the  more  equable  temperature  of  the 

The  mean  of  summer  at  Grand  Haven  is  2  deg.  lower, 
and  that  of  winter  3  deg.  higher  than  at  Milwaukee. 
The  summer  temperature  is  also  carried  further  on  into 
the  autumn,  and  the  winter  mean  falls  a  month  later. 

Still  more  marked  is  the  situation  in  regard  to  single 
extremes.  It  is  claimed  that  the  thermometer  never  falls 
below — 16  deg.  as  an  extreme  at  any  point  on  the 
eastern  shore  of  Lake  Michigan  (Winchell),  even  as  far 
north  as  Traverse  Bay,  a  latitude  in  which  elsewhere, 
both  east  and  west,  the  temperature  has  at  periods  of 
extreme  cold  fallen  as  low  as  — ^40  deg. 

The  wonderful  advantages  possessed  by  this  favored 
coast  of  our  peninsula  are  fast  procuring  for  it  an  envied 
celebrity.  It  is  destined  to  become  the  most  noted  fruit 
region  of  the  United  States,  having  all  the  advantages 
of  the  climate  of  the  Ohio,  the  .Missouri  and  California, 
without  their  drawbacks. 

It  will  be  seen  that  Detroit,  though  so  favorably  af- 
fected by  the  vicinity  of  the  lakes,  cannot  claim  all  the 
extraordinary  benefits  they  confer  in  so  high  a  degree, 
and  why  the  palm  is  borne  from  her  by  the  locations  on 
Lake  Michigan  and  by  the  southern  coast  and  the  islands 
of  Lake  Erie. 

That  delicate  foreigner,  the  peach,  is  with  us  liable  to 
loss  of  the  crop  by  May  frosts,  and  even  the  tree  itself 
often  suffers  from  the  winter  extremes ;  but  no  such 
mishaps  occur  on  the  western  coast  of  the  peninsula. 
The  native  grape  frequently  suffers  here,  both  in  fruit 
and  vine,  but  the  crop  almost  never  fails  upon  the  islands 
in  Lake  Erie.  These  have  a  climate  peculiarly  favorable, 
both  from  the  retarded  spring  and  the  prolonged  autumn 


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WINDS.  429 

of  their  locality.  In  these  respects  they  contrast  most 
favorably  with  the  much  more  southerly  climates  where 
the  grape  is  cultivated. 

An  illustration  of  this  came  under  my  observation  in 
the  spring  of  i860.  Being  at  Lexington,  Kentucky,  on 
the  night  of  the  25th  of  April,  I  was  desirous  to  visit  the 
most  promising  vineyard  in  that  neighborhood,  the  vines 
of  which  were  set  full  in  fruit.  The  morning  brought  a 
black  frost,  and  when  I  visited  the  yard. not  a  bunch  was 
found  unspared  ;  the  whole  crop  was  destroyed.  Return- 
ing North,  I  reached  Lake  Erie  on  the  ist  of  May. 
There  a  winter  temperature  still  reigned,  and  not  a  bud 
had  put  forth.  In  due  time  the  island  yines  set  fruit  and 
produced  an  abundant  crop. 

The  prevailing  winds  of  this  locality  are  in  winter  west, 
or  those  directions  into  which  west  enters.  They  vary 
from  south-west  to  north-west,  seldom  east  or  south-east. 

In  spring,  east  and  north-east  winds  prevail  nearly  half 
the  time.  They  vary  from  east  to  west,  and  north-east 
to  south,  but  seldom  north-west.  In  some  of  the  spring 
months,  usually  March  or  April,  east  and  north-east  winds 
are  the  prevailing  ones.     In  others  westerly. 

In  summer,  south-west  winds  prevail,  varying  from 
south  to  west.  East  and  west  winds  are  frequent,  but 
very  few  north-west  or  south-east. 

In  autumn,  westerly  winds  are  prevalent,  varying  to 
south-west  and  south,  but  a  westerly  direction  enters  into 
two-thirds  of  the  winds  of  this  season. 

Taking  the  yearly  average,  probably  two-thirds  of  the 
winds  are  south-west,  west  and  north-west. 

Light  showers  or  falls  of  snow  come  with  westerly 
winds,  as  also  the  summer  thunder-storms,  but  the  long 


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rains  and  snow-storms  are  attended  by  an  easterly  wind. 
The  severe  and  cold  wind  storms,  however,  are  from  the 
west,  and  it  is  from  this  direction  that  the  winds  come 
with  greatest  force,  and  we  receive  the  storms  that  are  so 
destructive  to  vessels  on  the  lakes.  This  prevalence  of 
surface  winds  from  the  west  is  only  a  necessary  result  of 
that  majestic  atmospheric  current,  which,  in  this  temper- 
ate zone,  is  ever  silently  but  unceasingly  sweeping  round 
the  globe. 

As  the  amount  of  precipitation  of  moisture,  in  the 
form  of  rain  and  snow,  depends  upon  the  vicinity  of  large 
water  surfaces,  it  would  naturally  be  supposed  that  the 
climate  of  Michigan  should  be  a  moist  one.  But  the 
contrary  is  the  case.  In  fact,  the  peninsula  climate  is 
exceedingly  dry,  if  we  consider  the  total  amount  of  rain- 
fall. The  cause  will  be  apparent  when  we  consider  the 
source  from  which  our  rains  come,  and  the  relation  that 
subsists  between  the  rainfall  and  the  temperature. 

The  Gulf  of  Mexico  undoubtedly  furnishes  the  great 
source  of  supply  to  the  atmosphere  east  of  the  plains. 
The  vapor-laden  trade  winds,  coming  from  the  warm 
tropic  seas,  carry  their  volume  of  moisture  over  the  Gulf 
States,  where  large  quantities  are  precipitated.  As  it  is 
borne  further  inland  this  supply  meets  the  great  current 
of  south-westerly  winds,  and  is  carried  north  and  east 
with  a  constantly  diminishing  amount  of  precipitation. 
From  the  gulf  coast,  where  it  is  greatest,  to  the  lakes, 
the  rainfall  has  gradually  diminished  ffom  the  large  mean 
annual  amount  of  60  inches   to  28  inches. 

The  result  would  probably  be  quite  uniform  were 
there  no  diversities  of  surface  to  cause  local  differences. 

The  same  effect  is  visible,  to  a  less  extent,  along  the 


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Atlantic  coast,  where  the  easterly  winds   contribute  to 
the  supply. 

To  a  still  less  extent  this  effect  is  apparent  in  the 
vicinity  of  the  lakes.  The  total  rainfall  is  two  to  four 
inches  greater  in  the  interior  of  the  peninsula  than  on 
the  immediate  borders. 

The  law  which  prevails  in  Europe,  of  an  excess  of 
precipitation  upon  the  mountain  summits  and  elevated 
plains,  does  not  hold  generally  in  the  United  States, 
where  rather  a  contrary  law  obtains.  The  high  plateaus 
— even  the  elevated  chain  of  the  Alleghenies — have  less 
of  both  summer  and  annual  precipitation  than  the  lower 
lands  on  either  side.  Our  peninsula,  which  is  a  plateau 
not  exceeding  1000  feet  above  the  ocean,  is  no  exception 
to  the  rule. 

This  phenomenon  is  doubtless  due  to  the  lower  tem- 
perature of  the  higher  lands,  during  the  season  of  greatest 
precipitation,  and  shows  that  general  rather  than  local 
causes  govern  the  rainfall  throughout  the  whole  country. 
The  cooler  summer  atmosphere,  which  we  have  seen  to 
be  the  effect  of  the  near  vicinity  of  the  lakes,  contributes 
to  this  result,  and  will  explain  in  part,  no  doubt,  the 
comparative  dryness  of  the  Michigan  climate. 

With  the  exception  of  the  gulf  coast  this  portion  of  the 
Untied  States  belongs  to  the  great  area  of  equally  dis- 
tributed rains,  one  that  has  no  defined  rainy  seasons. 

We  have,  consequently,  no  periodic  rains,  although  the 
periods  of  most  abundant  rains  are  looked  for  quite  regu- 
larly in  the  summer  and  the  early  autumn  months.  It  is 
usual  to  expect  the  **  equinoctial  storm,'*  as  it  is  called, 
— a  rainy  period  of  several  days, — about  the  end  of  Sep- 
tember ;  but  even  this  is  quite  uncertain,  both  as  to  its 
duration  and  even  its  occurrence. 


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.  ^2  CUM  A  TE  OF  DE  TROIT. 

During  the  heat  of  summer  our  rains  occasionally 
assume  a  character  suited  to  the  tropical  vehemence  of 
the  temperature,  and  pour  down  with  great  profusion 
though  their  duration  is  short. 

A  peculiar  phenomenon  of  the  rain  storms  in  this  local- 
ity is  that  they  occur  so  frequently  under  the  cool  shades 
of  the  night,  preceded  and  followed  by  cloudless  days. 

Although  the  amount  of  rainfall  is  so  small  in  this  dis- 
trict, I  think  it  will  be  found,  were  the  records  sufficiently 
extended,  that  the  number  of  days  on  which  some  rain  or 
snow  falls  is  as  great  as  in  more  southerly  districts,  where 
the  annual  amount  is  twofold. 

That  our  atmosphere  is  little,  if  at  all,  affected  by  the 
diffuse  evaporation  from  the  surrounding  water  surfaces 
is  evident  from  its  great  clearness,  the  intense  azure  of  its 
sky,  and  the  brilliancy  of  its  moonlight  and  star  canopy. 

The  region  of  the  lakes  is  noted  also  for  its  beautiful 
sunsets.  In  this,  as  well  as  in  the  transparency  of  its  at- 
mosphere, it  excels  the  Eastern  States,  and  more  than 
rivals  far-famed  Southern  Europe.  Talk  of  the  blue  skies 
of  Italy  !  We  have  more  clear  firmament,  and  of  a  deeper 
depth  of  blue,  in  one  month  than  Italy  in  half  the  year. 

To  exhibit  clearly  our  relation  to  the  surrounding  ter- 
ritory would  require  charts  of  the  isohyetal  lines.  In 
the  absence  of  these,  a  brief  statement  may  serve  to  con- 
vey a  proximate  idea. 

In  broad  terms,  the  area  of  8  to  9  inches  spring  rain- 
fall includes  the  whole  Michigan  peninsula.  The  cen- 
tral and  western  portions  have  nearly  one  inch  more  than 
the  eastern,  and  at  Mackinaw  and  St.  Mary's  the  total 
has  diminished  to  about  5  inches. 

The  area  of  9  to  10  inches  summer  rainfall  includes 
all  the  lakes   and    Lower  Canada.     There   is  but    little 


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variation  throughout  the  peninsula  ;  9  inches  represent- 
ing fairly  the  eastern  side,  and  10  inches  the  central  and 

The  autumn  rainfall  has  about  the  same  general  aver- 
age, but  diminishes  to  about  8  inches  at  the  north,  •  or  to 
the  same  mean  as  Wisconsin. 

The  average  winter  precipitation  is  about  5  inches  ; 
somewhat  less  on  the  east  side  of  the  State,  and  about 
one  and  a  half  inches  more  in  the  interior  and  west. 

The  total  annual  precipitation  is  30  to  31  inches  on 
the  east  side,  increasing  south  and  west  to  34  inches,  and 
diminishing  to  25  inches  at  Mackinaw.  The  average  for 
the  whole  peninsula  is  33  inches. 

Comparing  these  means  with  those  which  obtain  at  a 
small  remove,  we  find  that  a  summer  rainfall  of  from  ten 
to  twelve  inches  (or  two  to  three  inches  in  excess  of  De- 
troit) crowds  closely  up  lakes  Michigan,  Erie  and  On- 
tario, and  sweeps  over  the  lower  half  of  Wisconsin,  and 
as  far  north  and  west  as  St.  Paul. 

The  winter  precipitation  increases  rapidly  as  we  ad- 
vance south  from  Lake  Erie,  being  fully  seven  inches 
through  the  north  part  of  Ohio  and  Indiana  (or  two 
inches  above  the  mean  of  Michigan),  and  increases  to 
eleven  inches  at  Cincinnati. 

Proceeding  south  from  Michigan  the  total  annual  pre- 
cipitation increases  at  the  rate  of  about  three  inches  for 
every  degree  of  latitude,  to  the  Ohio  River,  where  it  is 
forty-eight  inches,  or  fifteen  inches  more  than  the  mean 
of  Michigan. 

At  95  deg.  longitude  the  mean  annual  precipitation  is 
about  the  same  as  at  Detroit.  But  thence  westward  the 
diminution  is  rapid,  and  at  the  meridian  of  100  deg.  it  is 
scarcely  more  than  half  that  amount. 


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From  the  lakes  to  the  Atlantic  we  find  a  gradual  in- 
crease, from  an  annual  mean  of  thirty-two  inches  to 
forty-four  inches. 

Thus  notwithstanding  our  insular  position,  the  cli- 
mate of  this  region  proves  to  be  the  dryest  in  the  United 
States  east  of  the  headwaters  of  the  Mississippi.  But 
the  rains  are  very  equally  distributed,  through  all  but 
the  winter  months,  which  have  only  one-sixth  of  the 
entire  precipitation.  Crops,  therefore,  seldom  suffer  from 
the  want  of  moisture,  even  in  the  dry  periods. 

South  of  the  Ohio  the  winters  have  one-third  of  the 
whole  precipitation — equal  to  that  of  the  summer. 

Having  considered  the  character  of  the  seasons  and 
our  relation  to  neighboring  parts  of  the  continent,  as  re- 
gards the  average  measures  of  precipitation,  let  us  notice 
and  compare  the  monthly  fluctuations.''*' 

At  Detroit  the  smallest  quantities  fall  in  the  months 
of  December  and  February ;  the  mean  of  thirty-eight 
years  being  1.3  and  1.4  inches,  respectively,  and  that  of 
the  three  winter  months  being  1.7  inches. 

•  From  February  to  June  appears  a  gradual  increase, 
largest  for  March  and  April,  when  it  rises  to  2.9,  the 
mean  of  the  spring  being  2.8  inches. 

In  June,  which  is  the  month  of  largest  precipitation, 
there  is  an  increase  to  3.9  inches,  the  mean  of  the  sum- 
mer being  3.1.  From  June  there  is  a  falling  off  during 
the  remaining  summer  months. 

The  mean  for  September  rises  to  3.3  inches,  that  of 

*  Comparing  these  measures  with  the  "Table  of  Mean  Tempera- 
ture and  Rainfall  of  the  Seasons,"  given  in  the  "  Additional  Observations," 
following  this  Essay,  it  will  be  seen  that  the  figures  above  given  require 
some  modifications.  These,  however,  do  not  affect  the  general  deduc- 


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autumn  being  2.4,  and  falls  again  through  the  remainder 
of  the  year. 

These  results  show  a  tendency  to  two  minima,  in  De- 
cember and  February,  and  to  two  maxima,  in  June  and 

The  June  freshet  is  looked  for  quite  uniformly,  and 
with  more  certainty  than  the  floods  which  attend  the 
melting  of  the  snow  in  the  spring,  although  the  latter 
often  exceed  in  temporary  height  and  violence. 

A  table  of  the  average  precipitation  for  the  seasons 
and  months,  for  different  places,  from  the  Gulf  to  the 
coast  of  New  England,  exhibits  very  considerable  con- 
trasts. It  would  be  interesting  to  examine  them  if  we 
had  the  time. 

For  my  present  purpose  I  will  advert  to  the  fact  only 
that  there  exists  a  general  tendency  to  minima  of  pre- 
cipitation about  the  middle  or  end  of  winter,  and  of 
maxima  about  midsummer. 

Grouping  the  results,  it  may  be  stated  that  on  or  near 
the  coast  of  New  England  the  tendency  is  to  one  mini- 
mum in  February  of  about  three  inches,  and  three 
maxima,  in  May  four  inches,  August  and  November  4.5 
to  4  inches. 

Through. Central  New  York  one  minimum,  February, 
of  2  inches,  and  one  maximum,  June  or  July,  3.5  inches. 

In  the  Lake  region,  west  of  Lake  Erie,  one  minimum 
in  February,  of  1.4  inches,  and  one  maximum  in  June, 
3.5  inches. 

In  the  Ohio  Valley  one  minimum,  January  and  Feb- 
ruary, of  3  inches,  and  one  maximum  about  June,  4.5 

On  the  Gulf  coast  two  minima,  April,  2  inches,   and 


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436  CUM  A  TE  OF  DB  TROIT, 

November,  3  inches,  and  one  maximum,  in  July,  6  to  8 

The  minimum  of  February  at  Detroit  is  less  than  one- 
twentieth,  and  the  maximum  of  June  nearly  one-eighth 
of  the  whole  average  annual  rainfall.  In  other  words, 
the  mean  of  February  is  i.i  inch  below  the  average 
mean  of  the  months  ;  that  of  June  is  oiie  inch  above  the 
average  mean. 

On  the  diagram  is  shown  the  annual  precipitation,  run- 
ning through  the  mean  of  the  several  months,  at  represen- 
tative stations  within  the  group  referred  to,  including  also 
the  upper  Mississippi.  These  few  curved  lines  represent 
very  closely,  and  as  far  as  may  be  done  from  so  few 
data,  the  rainfall  through  the  year,  over  the  whole 
United  States,  east  of  the  great  plains. 

The  remark  is  frequently  made  that  our  climate  is  un- 
dergoing a  permanent  change.  Many  think  it  is  becom- 
ing drier,  which  is  by  some  attributed  to  the  destruction 
of  the  forests  ;  according  to  others  it  is  becoming  perma- 
nently colder  also. 

These  popular  opinions  suggest  a  very  interesting  in- 
quiry. For  the  present  it  may  be  a  sufficient  answer 
that  the  statistics  of  the  rainfall,  as  well  as  those  of  the 
temperature,  do  not  verify  such  conclusions. 

Throughout  this  region,  from  the  Atlantic  to  the  Mis- 
sissippi, north  of  the  Ohio,  the  fluctuations,  both  annual 
and  for  a  series  of  years,  are  very  gr^at,  and  they  show  a 
tendency  to  an  irregular  grouping  of  years  in  which  the 
rainfall  is  in  excess,  and  of  those  in  which  it  is  in  diminu- 
tion of  the  mean.  This  is  governed  by  no  known  or  ap- 
parent law,  and  though  in  the  main  there  is  a  general 
agreement  throughout  the  region,  yet  considerable  and 


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remarkable  differences  occur,  even  at  points  not  widely 

Diagrams  for  all  this  region  indicate  an  average  in- 
crease of  the  rainfall  from  about  1837  until  about  1862, 
and  this  fact  contradicts  the  prevalent  opinion  of  increas- 
ing dryness.  Since  that  period  a  general  decrease  is  ob- 
servable in  this  region. 

Within  this  first  series  of  years  occur  one  period  of 
greatly  diminished  rainfall,  common  to  the  diagrams  for 
New  England,  New  York,  Southern  Michigan  and  Ohio, 
viz.,  from  1835  to  1845, averaging  10  to  15  percent,  be- 
low the  mean  for  each  district,  and  one  period  of  increased 
rainfall,  viz.,  from  1848  to  1862,  which  averages  10  to 
20  per  cent,  above  the  mean. 

Successive  years,  however,  frequently  show  great  ir- 
regularity in  the  amounts,  sometimes  falling  from  20  to 
30  per  cent,  above  the  mean  of  the  place  to  as  much 
below,  within  a  period  of  two  or  three  years,  breaking 
in  so  violently  upon  the  average  as  to  render  any  gener- 
alization very  difficult. 

For  the  sake  of  comparison  I  select  from  each  of  the 
districts  named  three  years  of  greatest  and  of  least  rain- 
fall, and  bring  them  together,  exhibiting  the  percentage 
which  each  attains  above  and  below  the  yearly  mean  of 
the  district. 

A  comparison  of  these  maxima  and  minima  serves  to 
show  how  extremely  local  are  the  causes  of  the  differ- 
ences ;  how  small,  is  the  correspondence  between  the  lo- 
cations for  the  same  years,  while  it  does  not  indicate 
any  decided  differences  in  the  variability  in  the  different 

«  See  Part  III. — "Periodical  Changes,"  etc.— for  more  recent  conclu- 
sions— 1887. 


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Years  of  greatest 

above  mean. 

Years  of  greatest 

Per  cent, 
below  mean. 

New     England 

New  York  . . 

Southern  Mich- 

















The  range  at  Detroit  (between  highest  maximum  and 
lowest  minimum)  is  fully  fifty-five  per  cent,  of  the  annual 
mean,  which  does  not  differ  greatly  from  that  of  the 
other  districts,  though  in  excess  of  the  eastern  ones,  but 
at  St.  Paul  the  range  is  much  greater.  There  the  mean 
of  the  year  is  only  twenty-five  inches,  while  the  range, 
in  nineteen  years'  observation,  is  from  forty-one  to 
eighteen  inches,  or  over  100  per  cent. 

The  accompanying  diagram  will  exhibit  at  a  glance 
ther  annual  fluctuations  in  the  rainfall  at  Detroit  since 
1834.  Each  column  represents  the  precipitation  of  the 
year,  and  the  amount  in  inches  is  shown  by  the  figures 
at  the  side.  The  curved  line  is  an  attempt  at  a  general- 
ization of  the  several  means.* 

To  the  facts  we  have  been  considering,  and  which  have 
relation  to  our  situation  relative  to  the  great  sources  of 
supply,  as  well  as  to  the  plateau  character  of  the  country, 
is  due  our  comparative  exemption  from  destructive  flood- 
ing rains  and  deep  snows.  Neither  the  lakes  nor  the 
peninsula  streams  overflow  their  banks,  causing  such  de- 

♦  For  this  diagram  see  "  Additional  Observations  ** — Part  II. — where  the 
columns  are  extended  to  date,  1887. 


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vastations  as  are  common  in  the  States  east  and  south  of 
us.  And  in  winter  railroad  trains  are  seldom  blocked  by 
snow,  as  frequently  happens  in  this  latitude. 

The  same  cause  which  frees  this  locality  from  the  in- 
conveniences of  deep  snow  also  deprives  us  in  many  win- 
ters of  sufficient  snow  for  the  ordinary  winter  sledding. 
The  increased  temperature,  due  to  the  extensive  and 
open  water  surfaces  around  us,  causes  the  snow  to  melt 
almost  as  it  falls  so  that  it  seldom  lasts  long  as  a  cover- 
ing to  the  soil.  The  lower  atmosphere,  at  such  times, 
gathers  increased  humidity,  which  occasions  a  sensible 
chill,  that  is  more  uncomfortable  in  its  effect  than  a 
steady  cold  below  the  freezing  point. 

Yet  it  is  a  noticeable  fact  that  fogs  are  rare  with  us,  at 
any  season. 

Our  deepest  snow  and  of  longest  continuance  usually 
occurs  in  February,  which  is  the  month  of  greatest  cold.* 

The  droughts  which  prevail,  often  disastrously,  in  au- 
tumn throughout  Michigan  are  not  peculiar  to  this  dis- 
trict ;  although  the  less  quantity  of  rain  at  that  season, 
than  falls  over  the  country  east  and  south,  no  doubt  con- 
tributes  to  this  result. 

The  still  drier  climate  west  of  Lake  Michigan,  extend- 
ing with  increased  severity  to  the  great  plains,  exhibits 
this  phenomenon  in  vastly  enhanced  proportions. 

Yet  to  the  same  cause  is  due  that  peculiar  and  delight- 
ful phenomenon — the  Indian  summer — which  is  compar- 
atively little  known  to  the  Atlantic  States,  but  which 
constitutes  so  pleasing  a  feature  in  the  lake  region. 

In  a  general  survey  of  our  seasons  the  winter  at  Detroit 
may,  as  a  rule,  be  classed  as  **  mild  and  open.** 

♦The   more  extended  observations — Part   II. — show  January  to   be  the 
coldest  month,  by  nearly  one  degree. 


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My  notes  show  nearly  two-thirds  of  the  winters  for  the 
last  thirty-eight  years  to  be  of  this  character.  These  kind 
of  winters  may  be*  thus  described  :  A  temperature  sel- 
dom below  o,  and  frequently  above  the  freezing  point ; 
an  average  temperature  i  deg.  above  the  winter  mean  of 
27  deg. ;  a  few  weeks  at  most — often  a  few  days  only — 
of  snow  sufficient  to  make  sleighing ;  many  cloudless 
days,  though  the  cloudy  ones  are  in  excess ;  constant 
alternations  of  frosty  nights  and  days,  with  warm  and 
damp  or  rainy  ones,  yet  with  a  large  number  of  days  of 
clear,  bracing  atmosphere,  when  the  thermometer  falls 
below  freezing  at  night  and  rises  a  little  above  it  by  day ; 
prevailing  west  and  south-west  winds,  an  occasional  storm 
that  leaves  its  mantle  of  snow,  followed  almost  immedi- 
ately, or  within  a  few  days  at  most,  by  the  prevailing 

As  a  rule,  only  the  "  cold  "  winters  are  snowy  ones — 
winters  whose  temperature  is  i  deg.  or  2  deg.  below  the 
mean, — when  it  continues  to  freeze  for  several  days  suc- 
cessively. At  such  periods  the  local  influences  are  over- 
borne by  the  general  causes  which  prevail  in  this  latitude, 
and  the  cold  storms,  with  their  freight  of  heavy  snows, 
sweep  over  and  involve  our  district  in  the  prevailing 
frigidity.  At  such  times  the  ground  freezes  hard,  if  bare, 
to  the  depth  of  two  or  three  feet.  Streams  are  frozen 
over, — our  broad  river  included, — and  no  longer  lend 
their  influence  to  soften  the  temperature.  Winter  gath- 
ers strength  by  its  own  progress^  and  forgets  its  ordinary 

Of  the  advance  of  spring-time  my  note-books  furnish  a 
few  items  which  may  serve  for  useful  comparison  with 
other  localities. 


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The  first  of  the  forest  trees  to  be  animated  by  the  gen- 
ial breath  are  the  poplar,  willow,  elm  and  ihaple.  These 
are  in  flower  from  April  i  to  20,  the  average  for  the  two 
latter. being  April  7.  The  earliest  period  on  my  records 
is  in  1845,  March  11. 

Wild  flowers  make  their  appearance  about  the  middle 
of  April  to  1st  of  May. 

Those  cultivated  fruits,  peach  and  cherry,  come  into 
bloom  about  a  month  later  than  the  forest  maple  and 
elm, — 20th  of  April  to  middle  of  May, — the  average  being 
May  8th.  Pear  and  apple  follow,  1st  to  20th  of  May  ; 
average  about  May  12th. 

The  forests  now  begin  to  show  a  green  tint,  but  the 
perfection  of  the  leaf  is  not  attained  until  late  in  June. 

We  have  seen  how  much  the  heats  of  summer  are 
moderated  by  our  situation.  Yet,  notwithstanding,  our 
climate,  like  that  of  the  whole  temperate  zone,  is  one  of 
fierce  extremes ;  indeed,  at  times  most  fitfully  intemper- 
ate, and  making  us  acquainted,  under  the  same  sky,  with 
the  winter  of  the  Arctic  regions  and  the  summer  of  the 
tropics.  There  are  days  in  our  short  summers  that 
fairly  belong  to  the  equator,  which  blaze  and  quiver 
with  sunshine  like  a  furnace,  and  when  vegetable  growth 
may  actually  be  measured  in  its  hourly  increase. 

There  are  days  in  our  rigorous  winters  when  the 
frosted  air  cuts  like  a  knife,  when  storm  so  follows  storm, 
in  all  the  grandeur  of  the  season,  that  for  a  time  the 
landscape  is  obliterated,  every  familiar  object  buried  out 
of  sight  beneath  the  congealed  and  hoary  breath  of  the 
storm  god. 

"  No  cloud  above,  no  earth  below, 
A  universe  of  sky  and  snow." 



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But  neither  heated  nor  frozen  '*  terms "  ordinarily 
last  many  days  at  a  time.  Changes  are  sudden  and  vio- 
lent, from  one  extreme  of  temperature  to  the  opposite. 

"  Dry "  seasons  are  often  accompanied  by  flooding 
rains ;  frosts  follow  a  period  of  hot  days,  and  they  have 
been  known  to  occur — though  very  rarely,  as  in  1859 — 
in  every  month  of  the  year. 

Between  the  spring  and  the  autumn  of  our  climate  there 
is  a  striking  contrast.  For  while  the  spring  of  the  Eng- 
lish poets,  so  familiar  to  our  early  literature, — breathing 
balm,  and  leading  by  slow  gradations  into  summer, — 
scarcely  exists  here,  where  often  winter  lingers  into  May, 
and  spring  leaps  at  a  bound  into  the  arms  of  summer,  or 
cheats  us  with  successive  storm,  cold  and  wet,  the  au- 
tumn time  is  the  most  enjoyable  of  the  year,  and  is  in 
grateful  contrast  to  the  dull,  wet  season  of  Europe. 

As  a  rule,  our  first  two  autumn  months  are  pleasant, 
cool  and  dry,  and  sometimes  this  agreeable  weather  is  pro- 
tracted into  the  first  month  of  winter.  But  this  season,  too, 
is  changeable,  and  nearly  one-fourth  of  the  years  on  my 
calendar  are  classed  as  mild  and  wet  or  wet  and  cold. 

This  great  and  constantly  recurring  irregularity  of  the 
seasons  gives  disappointment  to  those  who  seek  to  form 
predictions  of  the  weather,  based  upon  observations  of 
previous  years. 

My  own  notes  are  so  general  in  character  that  they 
meet  ill 'the  strict  demands  of  science.  Yet  some  of  the 
conclusions  drawn  from  them  may  be  worthy  of  record. 

Winters  which,  in  popular  language,  are  called  '*  mild 
and  open,"  are  ordinarily  succeeded  by  "  warm  and  early  " 
springs,  the  proportion  to  those  which  are  *' cold  and 
late  **  being  about  two  to  one. 


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Cold  and  snowy  winters  are  certain  to  be  followed  by 
cold  and  backward  springs.  To  this  law  my  records 
show  no  exception. 

Warm  and  pleasant  summers,  if  succeeded  by  dry  and 
pleasant  autumns,  are  followed,  as  a  rule  (not  without 
exceptions),  by  mild  and  open  winters. 

Cold  summers  and  autumns  are  ordinarily  succeeded  by 
cold  winters,  the  exceptions  being  as  about  one  to  two. 

Warm  and  early  springs  are,  as  a  rule,  followed  by 
warm  and  pleasant  summers,  the  proportions  of  such  to 
cold  and  wet  summers  being  nearly  four  to  one. 

Cold  and  late  springs,  it  may  be  expected,  will  be  fol- 
lowed by  cold  or  wet  summers,  but  they  are  almost  as 
frequently  succeeded  by  warm  and  dry. 

Though  there  is  an  approach  to  some  measure  of  regu- 
larity in  the  character  of  the  seasons  for  a  succession  or 
group  of  years,  no  certain  law  is  apparent,  but  a  warm  or 
a  cold,  a  wet  or  a  dry  year  is  likely  to  be  succeeded  by 
one  or  more  of  like  character,  before  the  character  is 

Upon  the  whole,  notwithstanding  the  great  range  of 
climatic  phenomena,  and  the  extreme  diversity  of  certain 
seasons  and  years,  the  observations  of  even  the  last 
thirty-nine  years — short  as  is  that  period  for  scientific  de- 
ductions— show  our  climate  to  be  constant  and  uni- 
form, returning  always  to  the  average  standard  of  heat 
and  moisture. 

Popular  opinion  pronounces  some  extraordinary  ex- 
treme to  be  "  unprecedented  *'  within  the  memory  of 
that  very  unreliable  character,  "the  oldest  inhabitant." 
But  science,  from  whose  stern  decrees  there  is  no  ap- 
peal, declares  it  to  be  but  local  and  temporary,  and  part 
of  those  ever  recurring  features   which,   in  the  cycle  of 


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the  years,  only  furnish  proof  of  the  stability  and  uni- 
formity of  nature. 

In  the  natural  divisions  of  the  seasons  another  con- 
trast appears  between  our  climate  arid  that  of  Europe, 
which,  though  less  marked  in  the  vicinity  of  the  lakes, 
is  yet  a  noted  difference  throughout  the  temperate  zone 
of  America. 

The  divisions  of  the  calendar  year  appear  much 
more  arbitrary  as  applied  to  our  circumstances,  and  show 
that  they  were  meant  for  another  hemisphere. 

In  attempting  a  classification  better  suited  to  our  cli- 
mate, if  we  define  ** winter"  as  the  period  of  hard  frosts 
and  completely  dormant  vegetation,  that  season  will 
embrace  not  merely  a  fourth  part,  but  nearly  half  of  the 
entire  year,  or  from  November  to  the  middle  of  April  in- 
clusive, five  and  a  half  months. 

If  we  call  "spring"  the  period  between  the  flowering 
of  the  earliest  trees  and  shrubs  or  the  first  opening  buds 
and  the  full  development  of  the  leaves,  that  season  will 
have  its  average  beginning  about  the  middle  of  April 
and  its  end  the  middle  of  June,  two  months. 

The  reign  of  "  summer,'*  the  season  of  the  full  perfec- 
tion of  vegetable  growth,  holds  from  the  middle  of  June 
to  the  middle  of  September,  three  months. 

"  Autumn,"  the  season  of  the  ripening  of  the  fruits  of 
the  earth  and  the  gradual  decadence  of  vegetable  life, 
lasts  from  the  middle  of  September  to  November,  one 
and  a  half  months. 

In  the  more  genial  atmosphere  of  the  lakes,  as  I  have 
already  noted,  the  autumnal  season  is  often  much  more 
protracted,  and  cheats  the  colder  months  of  a  portion  of 
their  supremacy.  The  bland  airs  of  the  Indian  summer 
help  to  prolong  the  illusion  ;  but  it  is  only  an  interloper, 


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and,  in  general,  by  November  the  hard  frosts  have  set  in, 


"  Winter  comes  to  rule  the  varied  year." 

I  cannot  close  these  remarks  without  adverting  to  the 
substantial  advantages  which  our  climate  possesses,  espe- 
cially that  of  the  lake  region,  over  most  others  on  the 

If  it  is  often  excessive  in  its  extremes,  it  has  not  the 
great  daily  range  which  in  arid  climates  is  so  severely  felt, 
causing  a  benumbing  coldness  to  the  nights  after  the  op- 
pressive heat  of  the  day. 

If  we  have  sometimes  droughts,  to  the  injury  of  the 
crops,  we  have  not  those  periodic  seasons  of  completely 
dry  weather,  when  no  rain  falls  for  many  weeks,  or  even 
months  ;  when  vegetation  can  be  sustained  only  by  irriga- 
tion, and  the  atmosphere  is  charged  with  dust,  features 
that  so  greatly  detract  from  the  excellences  of  California. 

And  if  occasional  drenching  rains  flood  the  growing 
crops,  they  bring  at  rare  intervals  to  our  doors  only  slight 
intimations  of  those  deluges  which  deform  the  winters 
and  the  rainy  seasons  of  the  South  and  the  Pacific  coast, 
or  which,  in  the  hill  countries,  often  fill  the  valleys  with 
the  debris  of  ruined  homes. 

If  severe  gales  sometimes  cause  destruction  among  our 
lake  craft,  and  even,  though  rarely,  uproot  our  orchards, 
no  tornado  ever  visits  upon  us  its  terrific  fury,  and  our 
locality  is  remarkably  free  from  the  sudden  and  fierce 
storms  which  are  an  incident  even  close  to  our  borders.* 

The  disagreeable  features  are  but  exceptions  to  the 
general  rule  of  moderate  but  sufficient  rains  for  all  needs, 
equally  distributed  throughout  the  year ;  a  summer  tem- 
perature, which  rapidly  quickens  into  active  life  the  hi- 

*In  1875  I^etroit  was  visited  by  a  small  cyclone,  the  only  one  known 
within  the  memory  of  the  "  oldest  inhabitant." — 1887. 


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bernating  earth,  and  in  its  fervors  gives  to  our  zone  some 
of  the  productive  power  of  the  tropics,  enabling  it  to 
bring  to  perfection  the  bountiful  maize  and  other  tropical 
plants,  and  especially  those  various  and  valuable  fruits 
that  attain  their  perfection  only  in  our  clime — the  apple, 
pear,  peach,  plum  and  grape. 

"  Whatever  fruits  in  different  climes  are  found, 
That  proudly  rise  or  humbly  seek  the  ground ; 
Whatever  blooms  in  torrid  tracts  appear, 
Whose  bright  succession  decks  the  varied  year ; 
Whatever  sweets  salute  the  northern  sky, 
With  vernal  lives  that  blossom  but  to  die ; 
These  here  disporting  own  the  kindred  soil." 


It  must  be  acknowledged  that  our  climate,  like  that  of 
this  continent  generally,  is  a  very  trying  one  to  the  aver- 
age American  constitution.  Its  dryness  and  its  frequent 
and  excessive  changes  seem  to  sap  from  the  body  that 
juiciness  of  the  blood  which,  under  the  moist  and  equable 
skies  of  England,  blooms  into  ruddy  complexions  and 
swells  into  plump  outlines. 

Perhaps  the  climate  is  not  alone  responsible  for  the  evil. 
Much  is  attributable  to  our  mode  of  life ;  the  incessaat 
application  to  business,  in  the  haste  to  be  rich  ;  or  too 
much  of  indoor  life  and  want  of  proper  exercise  in  the 
open  air.  Our  boys  cannot  be  said  to  be  pale  and  sickly, 
and  they  brave  the  weather  in  all  its  rudeness. 

Though  the  climate  of  Detroit  partakes  of  the  general 
character,  it  does  so  to  a  modified  degree.  I  believe  it  is 
admitted  that  our  locality  is  remarkable  for  its  healthful- 
nessand  freedom  from  endemic  diseases.  I  put  the  ques- 
tion to  our  professional  and  well  informed  President,* 
whether  Detroit  is  not  even  abominably  healthy ! 

*  Dr.  Andrews. 


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Nature  is  full  of  compensations.  The  perpetual  sum- 
mer of  torrid  climes  is  enervating  to  mind  and  body. 
Even  in  our  Southern  States,  agriculture,  the  basis  of 
wealth,  must  be  carried  on  by  an  inferior  race. 

Do  the  people  who  have  been  brought  up  in  a  clime 
where  summer  is  eternal  appreciate  in  their  full  measure 
those  gifts  of  bountiful  nature  whose  enjoyment  is  not 
enhanced  by  their  occasional  loss  ?  Does  the  never-end- 
ing succession  of  flowers  and  fruits  compensate  for  the 
absence  of  the  **  seasons,*' the  return  of  spring,  summer 
and  autumn,  after  the  dearth  of  winter ;  for  that  period 
of  biting  cold  and  storm  without,  and  blazing  hearths 

" king  of  intimate  delights, 

Fireside  enjoyments,  home-born  happiness," 

enhancing  even  by  its  bitter  contrast  the  enjoyableness 
and  bloom  of  summer  ? 

Where  but  in  such  a  clime  as  ours,  marked  so  emphat- 
ically by  the  revolutions  of  the  seasons,  with  their  cold 
and  heat,  and  all  their  pleasing  variety  and  change, 

"  Forever  charming,  and  forever  new," 

do  the  arts  flourish  best  and  man  attain  his  highest  perfec- 
tion? Happy  the  land  which  enjoys  the  promise  of 
spring  and  the  realization  of  autumn  ;  where  the  fruits  of 
the  earth  are  secured  only  by  unremitting  care  and  labor  ; 
where  a  frigid  temperature  strengthens  those  active  ener- 
gies that  droop  in  a  warmer  clime ;  and  where  the  glories 
of  summer,  being  only  an  occasional  gift,  are  more  wel- 
come from  the  contrast,  and  more  thoroughly  appre- 
ciated and  enjoyed. 


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Part  XL — Additional  Observations. 

SINCE  the  foregoing  essay  on  the  climate  of  Detroit 
was  written,  ten  years  and  more  have  passed.  This 
considerable  extension  of  the  series  available  for  scien- 
tific deduction  enables  me  to  supplement  the  first  essay 
by  some  additional  observations. 

Attention  is  at  once  attracted  to  the  very  considerable 
increase  in  both  the  temperature  and  the  rainfall  during 
the  last  decade. 

This  increase,  amounting  to  about  one  degree  in  the 
mean  annual  temperature,  and  to  seven  inches  in  the 
mean  annual  precipitation,  brings  up  the  mean  tempera- 
ture of  the  whole  fifty-year  series  from  47° — the  sup- 
posed standard  in  1874 — ^to  47.9®  in  1886;  and  the 
mean  of  the  rainfall  from  about  31  inches  to  32  inches. 

These  facts  serve  to  bring  scientific  observation  into 
more  confirmed  opposition  to  the  popular  opinion,  that 
our  climate  is  becoming  colder.  They  show,  in  fact,  that 
Detroit  has  a  somewhat  warmer  climate  than  has  been 
generally  accredited,  and  also  a  liability  to  greater  ex- 

The  diagram  of  the  rainfall  published  with  the  above 
mentioned  essay  indicated  for  this  region  an  average  in- 
crease from  about  1837  until  1862,  and  after  that  year  a 
general  decrease.  As  that  record  closed,  in  1874,  another 
period   of   increased    precipitation    had  begun.     It   con- 


Digitized  by 


FROM  1874  TO  1886.  451 

tinued  to  1881,  culminating  in  1880  in  a  register  of  47.7 
inches,  the  maximum  of  the  entire  semi-centennial  series. 
Simultaneously,  the  mean  annual  temperature  advanced, 
until  it  attained  51  °  in  1881  and  1882,  or  nearly  the  max- 
imum of  the  whole  series. 

Since  1880  the  columns  of  annual  rainfall  have  dimin- 
ished quite  steadily,  standing  in  1884  at  28.2  inches,  rising 
to  30  inches  in  1885,  and  again  falling  to  25  inches  in  1886. 

The  temperature  has  also  fallen,  and  we  seem  to  be 
once  more  on  the  downward  scale.  As  even  a  half-cent- 
ury is  an  insufficient  period  to  establish  a  certainly  cor- 
rect average,  it  is  not  at  all  improbable  that  the  means  as 
determined  in  1874,  of  30  to  31  inches  annual  rainfall,  and 
47®  annual  temperature,  may  approach  more  nearly  the 
true  standard  than  the  higher  means  accorded  by  the  half- 
century  record.  We  are  justified,  however,  in  adopting 
the  new  means,  which,  being  the  results  of  the  longest 
series  possible,  are  at  least  likely  to  be  substantially  ac- 

Let  us  now  inquire  what  changes,  if  any,,  the  added 
years  have  brought  to  light  in  the  maxima  and  minima 
of  temperature. 

The  highest  temperature  noted  up  to  1874  Was  98° 
and  the  lowest  — 18°.  We  must  now  concede  to  the  rec- 
ord of  extremes  100*^  maximum,  and  — 20°  minimum,  the 
highest  extreme  having  been  reached  in  July,  1878,  and 
the  lowest  in  February,  1875.  The  minimum  of  — 18° 
has  been  reached  five  times  within  the  half-century,  viz., 
in  1852,  '57,  '64,  '73  ai^d  '79-  That  of  — 14°  four  times, 
— in  1855,  '56,  'S9  and  *67.  That  of — 10*^  four  times, 
— in  i860,  '61,  '66  and  '72. 

The  maximum  rainfall  of  47.7  inches  has  been  reached 
since  1874,  as  also  the  extremes  of  45  inches,  43  inches, 


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and  40  inches,  within  the  same  period;  the  year  1855 
only,  outside  of  this  period,  exhibiting  so  high  an  ex- 
treme as  43  inches.  The  three  dryest  years  are  1845, 
'65  and  '7^  ^^ch  having  about  22  inches  only. 

From  the  means  of  thie  years  let  us  proceed  to  those  of 
the  SeasonSy  as  determined  from  the  monthly  means  of 
the  fifty-year  period. 

These  I  tabulate  as  follows : 

TABLE     OF     ] 




THE   SEASONS— 1835    TO  1 886. 

WINTER.           1 



AUTUMN.       1 







OS  .5 

















































Of  these  means  various  combinations  may  be  formed 
which,  while  curious  in  themselves,  serve  to  show  how 
equally  distributed  are  the  temperature  means  through- 
out the  year,  and  also  the  relations  which  the  several 
seasons  bear  to  each  other  and  to  the  year. 

Thus  as  regards  the  temperature,  the  means  of  winter 
and  summer  combined  (96.3°)  correspond  quite  closely 
with  those  of  spring  and  autumn,  which  are  i  °  only  less 


Half  the  mean  of  each  of  these  couples  of  seasons  rep- 
resents the  mean  temperature  of  the  year.     The  mean  of 

*  In  making  up  the  winter  means  of  any  year  that  of  the  December  of 
the  year  preceding  is  used,  so  as  to  bring  into  the  winter  measures  the 
months  which  are  in  juxtaposition. 


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i83S  TO  1886.  453 

spring  is  2.7°  below;  while  that  of  autumn  is  2°  above 
the  yearly  mean. 

If  we  add  together  the  means  of  any  month  with 
those  of  the  months  corresponding  in  place  in  the  other 
seasons,  we  find  their  combined  means  to  represent  very 
nearly  the  annual  mean.  Thus,  the  means  of  December, 
March,  June  and  September  equal  47.4°  ;  those  of  Janu- 
ary, April,  July  and  October  equal  48.7°  ;  those  of  Feb- 
ruary, May,  August  and  November  equal  47.7  ° . 

The  mean  of  winter  a  little  exceeds  half  of  the  autumn 
mean,  and  equals  one-seventh  exactly  the  sum  of  the 
means  of  all  the  seasons.  The  mean  of  summer  temper- 
ature is  36  per  cent,  of  the  sum  of  the  seasons.  That  of 
autumn,  26  per  cent.;  that  of  spring,  23  per  cent.;  that  of 
winter,  14  per  cent. 

Turning  to  the  rainfall^  the  table  shows  that  the  spring 
and  autumn  means  nearly  equal  each  other ;  the  former 
being  26  per  cent.,  and  the  latter  25  per  cent,  of  the  an- 
nual precipitation.  The  summer  rainfall  is  the  largest, 
corresponding  with  the  season  of  highest  temperature, 
and  is  30  per  cent,  of  the  entire  precipitation.  The  win- 
ter precipitation  is  about  two-thirds  that  of  summer, 
being  19  per  cent,  of  the  yearly  mean. 

To  these  notes,  showing  the  mean  characters  of  our 
seasons,  I  add  a  table  of  seasonal  fluctuations  (see  p.  456). 

These  figures  show  the  extent  of  range,  and  conse- 
quent diversity  of  our  seasons  in  different  years. 

The  tables  will  prove  useful  for  reference  in  the 
future  consideration  of  our  climatology. 

The  accompanying  diagram  of  the  annual  rainfall  for 
the  semi-centennial  period  under  review  has  been  ex- 
tended from  the  diagram  first  published  with  the  essay  of 


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50-year  period. 















187 1 

II. 9 













It  may  be  noticed,  in  proof  of  the  long  period  which  is 
required  to  give  accuracy  to  averages,  that  for  the  first 
half  of  this  period,  in  fact  down  to  1874,  the  yearly  pre- 
cipitation but  little  exceeded  a  mean  of  30  inches,  while 
the  last  half  shows  a  mean  of  34  inches,  and  the  last 
decade  a  mean  of  37.5  inches.  The  mean  of  the  whole 
period  is  found  to  be  32  inches. 

To  exhibit  in  another  form  and  at  a  single  glance  the 
means  of  annual  temperature y  I  subjoin  a  diagram  cor- 
responding to  that  of  the  rainfall.  For  more  full  compar- 
ison are  added  the  means  of  summer  and  winter,  and 
also  the   annual   rainfall.     With  the  aid  of  this  diagram 


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, Winter. , , Year. ,     , Summer.  - 

•^^        OOMO^OJ^OO^O^OOOM  MONO 





t  > 
>    z 

r  ^ 


2  ^ 
2  S 

oo  O 


M        Z 





r        8      ^       S)     Y5      ^     Temp.       t,        Degrees 

Rainfall     g^      &'g'§.-gt-fe    Inches. 



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and  our  tabular  statements,  the  relations  of  precipitation 
to  temperature,  and  of  the  temperature  of  the  seasons  to 
each  other,  and  to  the  year,  may  be  readily  seen. 

The  vertical  lines  represent  the  years,  the  horizontal 
lines  the  temperature  means,  and  the  rainfall.  For  the 
summer  and  winter  temperature  each  horizontal  line  rep- 
resents 2  ^ .  For  those  of  the  year  each  line  represents 
i^.  For  the  rainfall  (shown  by  dotted  line)  each  hori- 
zontal line  represents  2  inches. 

Having  laid  before  the  reader  a  chart  of  the  tempera- 
ture and  rainfall  of  the  past  half-century,  we  may  inquire 
whether,  cTut  of  the  great  and  diverse  fluctuations,  it  is 
possible  to  group  the  years  into  any  marked  series  of  dry 
and  wet,  warm  and  cold.  Do  the  weather  records  sus- 
tain the  old  theory  of  the  French  habitants,  that  these 
changes  follow  a  seven-year  period  ? 

For  the  sake  of  trial,  I  will  here  dispose  the  years  since 
1836  into  groups  of  seven  each, as  in  the  following  table: 

1837-43  • 
1844-50 . 
1851-57  . 
1865-71  . 
1872-78  . 
1879-85  ■ 





























We  see  from  this  table  a  disposition  on  the  part  of  the 
temperature  element  to  follow  the  supposed  law  for  the 


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first  four  periods ;  but  the  remaining  three  ignore  it  abso- 
lutely. On  the  part  of  the  precipitation  there  appears  no 
correspondence  with  any  such  law. 

That  there  is  a  tendency  to  recurring  periods  of  high 
and  low,  in  both  elements,  we  have  seen.  Can  we  arrange 
these  into  any  system  of  grouping  which  shall  show  a 
correspondence  between  them, — a  system  that  shall  not 
be  so  broken  in  upon  by  violent  and  opposite  extremes, 
in  single  years  or  in  small  groups  of  years,  as  to  defy 
classification  ? 

Both  the  temperature  and  the  rainfall  are  susceptible 
of  being  grouped  in  periods  of  from  ten  to  twelve  years, 
showing  a  quite  uniform  recurrence  of  the  same  condi- 
tions. But  after  many  attempts  so  to  group  these  as  to 
exhibit  a  correspondence  between  the  two  elements  with- 
in the  same  intervals, — recurring  periods  common  to  each, 
— the  task  was  found  to  be  hopeless.  But  the  investiga- 
tion finally  led  me  to  a  discovery  of  the  true  relation 
which  exists  between  the  two  elements,  and  of  the  law 
which  seems  to  govern.  The  results  appeared  to  be  of 
sufficient  importance  to  be  very  fully  set  forth.  This 
I  have  attempted  in  a  separate  essay,  forming  Part  III. 
of  these  observations  upon  our  climate,  and  to  this  the 
interested  reader  is  referred. 

But  apart  from  periodical  forms  of  change,  how  great 
have  been  the  annual  fluctuations !  Extreme  wet  and 
extreme  dry  years  are  not  always  separated  by  consider- 
able intervals,  but  the  differences  between  contiguous 
years  are  often  great.     (See  diagram  of  rainfall.) 

Thus  immediately  succeeding  1844,  with  its  rain  col- 
umn at  34  inches,  followed  one  of  the  dryest,  1845,  with 
its  rainfall  of  only  22.5  inches.  In  the  midst  of  the 
high  rainfall  period,  during  which,  in   1855,  ^^^^  precipi- 


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tation  rose  to  42.5  inches,  the  column  fell  the  next  year 
to  28.5  inches.  During  the  long  decline  succeeding,  the 
column  dropped,  in  1865,  to  21.3  inches, — the  lowest  on 
my  records.  From  this  the  recovery  was  gradual,  to 
the  next  high  culmination  of  36  inches,  in  1868.  In 
1 87 1  the  rainfall  was  again  reduced  to  22.6  inches,  from 
which  low  point  it  mounted  by  regular  gradations,  to  its 
extremest  height,  in  1880,  of  47.7  inches. 

These  extremes  indicate  a  total  range  of  twenty-five 
inches,  or  more  than  three-fourths  of  the  mean  annual 

Fluctuations  in  the  temperature  exhibit  a  range  con- 
siderably greater,  from  760  in  1858 — the  highest  summer 
mean — to  190  in  1875 — the  lowest  winter  mean;  being  a 
divergence  of  57^,or  a  fifth  more  than  the  annual  mean. 
The  mean  annual  or  periodical  temperatures  are,  however, 
quite  uniform,  compared  with  those  of  the  rainfall. 

The  decade  of  years  that  have  been  added  to  observa- 
tion since  my  essay  of  1874  serves  to  confirm  the  re- 
mark then  made,  as  to  the  equal  distribution  of  the  rain- 
fall throughout  the  seasons  in  this  favored  locality.  And 
while  no  important  differences  are  shown  in  regard  to 
the  means  of  the  seasons,  and  their  relations  to  places 
east  and  west  of  Detroit,  as  pointed  out  in  my  former 
remarks  on  **  The  Effect  of  the  Lakes  upon  the  Temper- 
ature,'* these  are  sufficient  to  modify  in  some  particulars 
the  comparisons  then  instituted,  while  they  tend  rather 
to  confirm  than  diminish  the  favorable  aspects. 

Among  sundry  weather  predicates,  I  there  laid  down 
the  following : — "  Cold  and  snowy  winters  are  certain  to 
be  followed  by  cold  and  backward  springs.  To  this  law 
my  records  show  no  exception."  The  year  1884  would 
almost  cls^im  to  be  considered  an  exception  to  the  rwle. 


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But  notwithstanding  its  continuance  of  cold  and  snow, 
the  mean  temperature  of  the  winter  (1883  and  1884)  was 
20  above  the  normal,  while  the  spring  was  but  1.50  above. 
So  the  exception  is  apparent  only.  Continued  observa- 
tion has  only  served  to  confirm  the  law  thus  laid  down. 

It  is  a  not  uncommon  remark,  often  heard  at  the  close 
of  a  very  severe  winter,  that  the  succeeding  spring  will 
be  of  an  opposite  character ;  the  idea  being  that  nature 
is  bound  to  afford  this  result  by  way  of  compensation. 
But  such  criticism  ignores  the  fact  that  nature  takes  her 
own  time  for  her  compensations,  and  seldom  or  never  in 
the  precise  way,  or  at  the  exact  time,  which  our  imper- 
fect faculties  demand.  In  fact  the  case  is  exceptional  in 
which  an  extreme  year,  whether  of  heat  or  cold,  drought 
or  wet,  is  immediately  followed  by  one  of  a  reverse  char- 
acter. But  the  change  is  sure  to  come.  Man  needs  only 
to  extend  his  observation,  and  to  carefully  treasure  his 
facts,  to  find  nature  working  by  uniform  and  unerring 
laws.  Nay  more,  that  the  hardships  of  her  extremes  are 
fully  compensated  by  ever  recurring  benefits. 

"From  seeming  evil  still  educing  good, 
And  better  thence  again,  and  better  still, 
In  infinite  progression." 


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Part  III. — Periodical  Changes  in  the  Lake  Lev- 
els, Rainfall,  Temperature  and  Sun-Spots; 
AND  Their  Relations  to  Each  Other. 

CONNECTED  with  our  considerations  upon  the  cli- 
mate is  a  subject  which  has  excited  great  interest 
since  the  first  settlement  of  the  country,  and  about  which 
much  has  been  written,  for  the  most  part  vaguely.  I  allude 
to  the  variations  in  the  levels  of  the  lake  waters. 

Many  causes  contribute  to  create  a  perpetual  fluctua- 
tion, or  rise  and  fall,  in  these  inland  seas. 

First.  A  possible  lunar  tide;  but  so  small  and  so 
broken  in  upon  by  greater  causes  as  to  be  of  very  un- 
certain value. 

Second.  The  winds,  which  often  cause  a  difference  in 
level  of  many  feet ;  strong  westerly  winds  causing  a  rise 
at  one  place,  and  easterly  winds  at  another.  These 
changes  are  irregular  and  transient,  but  often  considera- 
ble  in  amount,  ranging  from  two  to  five  feet. 

Third.  Annual  variation  attendant  upon  the  seasons 
and  confined  to  the  year.  This  kind  of  fluctuation  is 
a  winter  and  summer  movement.  The  supply  from 
streams  and  rains  being  wholly  or  partially  checked  in 
the  cold  season,  the  water  is  gradually  drawn  away,  low- 
ering the  general  level,  which  reaches  its  lowest  ebb 
about  January  or  February.     As  spring  advances,  with 



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melting  snows  and  increased  rainfall,  the  waters  rise 
gradually,  and  attain  their  greatest  height  in  June  or 
July.  They  then  begin  to  fall  again  to  their  winter 
level.  The  extreme  of  this  variation  is  about  2.30  feet, 
and  is  about  the  same  in  Lake  Erie  as  in  Detroit  River. 

Fourth.  A  rise  and  fall  of  the  waters  of  the  lakes  and 
their  connecting  channels,  extending  through  several 
years,  and  amounting  to  an  extreme  difference  of  five 
feet.  Upon  this  kind  of  fluctuation  Col.  Chas.  Whittle- 
sey has  bestowed  the  name  of  **  secular  variation." 

The  causes  of  this  variation  were  long  involved  in 
much  mystery.  According  to  the  old  French  tradition, 
it  is  independent  of  the  seasons,  and  follows  periodical 
intervals  of  seven  years.  To  what  extent  these  intervals 
of  high  and  low  water  are  regular  in  their  recurrence,  and 
how  far  they  are  connected  with  meteorological  or  astro- 
nomical causes,  can  be  determined  only  after  continuous 
and  exact  observations  for  a  long  series  of  years. 

It  is  hardly  more  than  a  decade  since  the  United 
States  Signal  Service  has  given  scientific  exactness  to  ob- 
servations, and  not  over  30  years  since  thoroughly  reliable 
statistics  have  been  tabulated.  Records  of  independent 
observers  often  differ  widely,  and  though  the  writer  has 
culled  from  different  sources  data  sufficient  to  enable  him 
to  construct  a  diagram  for  this  region,  covering  the  past  50 
years,  and  even  more,  many  of  these  data  are  of  uncer- 
tain value.  For  a  period  of  33  years,  beginning  with 
1853,  ^  record  has  been  kept  by  the  Detroit  Water  Board 
of  the  daily  fluctuations  in  the  level  of  the  river,  and  par- 
tial records  exist  of  other  years  since  1835. 

In  a  comparison  between  the  height  of  water  in  the 
river  arid  the  rainfall  at  Detroit,  no  conclusions  drawn 
from  these  data  will  apply  rigidly  to  the  lakes  above  and 


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below.  The  river  levels  are  influenced  not  alone  by  the 
precipitation  on  its  borders,  but  by  the  supply  from 
above.  Other  causes  contribute  to  its  irregularities, — 
local  rains,  confined  channel,  rapid  current.  While  a 
sudden  increase  in  the  precipitation  will  affect  the  broad 
surfaces  of  the  lakes  uniformly,  a  rise  would  take  place  at 
such  times  in  the  confined  straits  to  a  disproportionate 
extent.  In  discussing  this  so-called  **  secular  **  variation 
it  becomes  necessary  to  procure  data  from  outside 

Milwaukee  represents  well  Lake  Michigan,  and  Cleve- 
land, Lake  Erie.  Each  is  about  half  way  between  the 
head  and  foot  of  the  lake  upon  which  it  is  situated,  and 
where  the  changes  may  fairly  be  considered  as  means  of 
the  whole.  From  Milwaukee  I  have  a  table  of  the  rain- 
fall from  1844  to  1886,  and  of  the  *' secular'*  variations 
of  Lake  Michigan  from  1859  ^o  1882.  Fro'm  Cleveland, 
of  the  rainfall  from  1856  to  1886,  and  of  the  lake  varia- 
tions since  1859. 

At  each  of  these  places  the  standard  or  plane  of  refer- 
ence is  the  high  water  of  1838.  The  standard  at  Detroit 
is  an  arbitrary  one,  namely,  the  water-table  at  the  Hy- 
draulic Works.  The  mean  of  the  last  50  years  is  five  feet 
below  that  standard,  and  corresponds,  as  nearly  as  I  can 
determine,  to  one  foot  below  the  mean  of  1838,  and  two 
feet  below  the  extreme  of  June  of  that  year. 

Of  the  fluctuations  of  the  water  prior  to  the  period 
mentioned  the  only  data  are  derived  from  the  recollec- 
tions of  old  settlers.  These,  though  often  indefinite  and 
sometimes  faulty,  are  yet  of  great  value.  Dr.  Houghton, 
in  his  report  of  1839,  gives  certain  concordant  state- 
ments of  old  inhabitants,  going  back  as  far  as  1800.  In 
a  paper  published  in  "  Smithsonian  Contributions,**  Vol. 


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XII.,  Col.  Charles  Whittlesey  has  collected  items  from  all 
sources  within  his  reach,  going  back  as  far  as  1788.  Vague 
as  many  of  these  details  are,  there  is  so  much  that  is  of 
definite  value,  that  it  seems  to  me  possible  to  construct 
a  curve  of  the  levels  of  Lake  Erie  for  the  whole  period, 
which  should  exhibit,  with  tolerable  accuracy,  the  highest 
and  lowest  extremes  at  least.  As  I  propose  to  use  these 
aids  in  formulating  certain  conclusions,  I  ought  here  to 
give  the  reader  opportunity  to  form  his  own  judgment  as 
to  their  value  and  authority. 

To  begin,  it  may  be  taken  as  universally  admitted  that 
the  lakes  were  at  a  higher  level  in  1838  than  at  any 
known  period  before.  In  confirmation  of  this  is  the  fact, 
among  others,  that  forest  trees  of  a  century's  growth  and 
more  were  killed  by  the  high  water  of  that  year.  Two 
other  eras  of^  very  high  water  are  reported  by  tradition, 
the  one  in  1814-15,  the  other  in  1788.  *  Facts  and  com- 
parisons reported  render  it  nearly  certain  that  at  both 
these  periods  the  levels  attained  to  somewhere  near  the 
standard  of  1838.  At  the  former  date  much  land  and 
many  buildings  were  submerged  on  the  Detroit  and  St. 
Clair  rivers.  Many  statements  also  bear  upon  the  fact  of 
high-water  periods  between  the  several  dates  mentioned. 
Dr.  Houghton  relates,  on  the  authority  of  Col.  Henry 
Whiting  :  **  Old  inhabitants  agree  that  the  water  was  very 
high  in  the  years  1800  to  1802,  roads  along  Detroit  River 
being  completely  inundated,  and  even  rendered  impassa- 
ble." And  further,  that  in  1821  the  river  began  to  rise, 
**and  in  1828  had  again  attained  the  elevation  of  1815, 
submerging  wharves  that  had  been  built  in  the  interval ; 
and  it  so  remained  until  1830.'* 

As  to  low  extremes,  it  seems  well  ascertained  that  the 
one  of  1819-20  was  the  lowest   known  prior  to  1841 — 


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the  low  depression  which  succeeded  the  extreme  eleva- 
tion of  1838.  Presumably  it  w-as  the  lowest  known  dur- 
ing the  century.  Old  Frenchmen  of  Detroit  had  no  tradi- 
tion of  a  level  below  that  of  18 19.  Statements  regarding 
the  stage  of  the  water  always  make  reference  to  the 
acknowledged  highest  and  lowest  years.  Thus  we  are 
enabled  to  fix  upon  and  determine  with  considerable  ex- 
actness the  relative  values  of  other  low  periods.  The 
water  in  1796  was  reported  by  lake  captains  to  be  uni- 
versally low,  and  indicating  a  level  five  feet  below  the  high 
extreme  of  1838.  From  that  year,  they  say,  it  rose  rap- 
idly, and  continued  to  rise  until  1800.  Colonel  Whit- 
tlesey says,  **  It  was  ascertained  generally  that  the  water 
was  low  in  1790,  1796,  1802  and  1 8 10.  Between  February, 
i8i9,and  June,  1838,  there  was  a  continual  rise,  amounting 
to  6  feet  8  inches."  Old  settlers  compare  the  low  stage  of 
1802  with  that  of  1797.  In  1806  it  was 'reported  at 
Cleveland  lower  than  in  1 801-2,  and  declining  regularly 
to  1809-10.  At  this  date  it  was  reported  nearly  as  low 
at  Buffalo  as  in  18 19.  From  1828  it  was  reported  as  fall- 
ing, and  in  1833  was  3  feet  10  inches  below  June,  1838. 
From  this  year  on  we  are  able  to  trace  the  "secular  *' 
periods  of  lake  and  river  with  considerable  accuracy ;  and 
data  also  exist  in  regard  to  other  elements  which  it  is 
proposed  to  include  in  our  discussion.  I  give  two  dia- 
grams, intended  to  exhibit  graphically  what  is  shown 
more  in*  detail  in  the  tables. 

Diagram  No.  i  (page  460)  shows  the  curve  of  high  and 
low  water  of  Lake  Erie,  from  1788  to  1838,  constructed 
in  accordance  with  the  above  data.  In  connection  with 
it  is  given  the  sun-spot  curve,  from  1769  to  1838,  accord- 
ing to  Wolfs  tables,  reference  to  which  will  be  made 


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5  ^ 

H    oo 
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Diagram  No.  2  (page  466)  gives  similar  data  for  the 
term  of  years  from  1834  to  1886,  including,  in  addition  to 
the  curves  of  lake  levels,  those  of  the  rainfall  and  of 
the  temperature  (registered  at  Detroit),  and  the  sun- 
spots,  according  to  Wolf*s  tables. 

In  these  diagrams  my  endeavor  has  been  to  exhibit 
by  curved  lines  the  recurring  maximum  and  minimum 
periods,  eliminating  intermediate  and  irregular  fluctua- 

Confining  our  attention  for  the  present  to  the  curve  of 
Rainfall  (diagram  No.  2),  let  us  endeavor  to  ascertain 
whether  among  the  many  and  often  abrupt  fluctuations 
it  is  possible  to  discover  any  periodicity. 

The  vertical  columns  represent  years.  In  the  portion 
devoted  to  the  rainfall  variations  the  horizontal  lines 
represent  the  number  of  inches  of  annual  precipitation. 

It  will  be  noted  that  the  years  1836  and  1880  were 
times  of  excessive  rainfall.  Between  these  two  extremes, 
and  about  equidistant,  appears  another  strongly-marked 
period  of  excess,  culminating  in  1855.  Again,  between 
these  three  maxima  are  two  lesser  extremes,  culniinating 
in  1844  and  1868.  Thus  our  curved  line  marks  five  pe- 
riods of  maximum  rainfall. 

Of  low  extremes  we  note  four,  which  have  their  cul- 
minations in  the  years  1839,  1850,  i860  and  1871. 

The  intervals  between  extremes  vary  from  8  to  13 
years,  the  general  mean  being  10.8  years. 

Let  us  now  compare  with  these  curves,  those  immedi- 
ately below,  and  which  represent  the  periodic  changes  in 
the  levels  of  Lake  Erie  during  the  half-century. 

Here  the  horizontal  lines  represent  the  number  of  feet 
below  the  plane  of  1838. 

It  requires  but  a  glance  at  the  diagram  to  show  that 


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some  relationship  exists  between  the  lake  and  rainfall  pe- 
riods. The  first  impression  conveyed  is  that  the  curves 
are  in  opposition — that  the  high  in  one  corresponds  with 
the  low  in  the  other,  and  the  reverse.  But  I  think  the 
true  relation  will  be  made  to  appear  when-  we  notice  the 
important  fact  (which  I  endeavor  to  render  more  appar- 
ent by  dotted  lines),  viz.,  that  the  water  extremes  lag  be- 
hind the  rainfall  extremes, — following  them  at  intervals 
from  two  to  four  years.  Thus  the  seeming  want  pf  co- 
incidence is  reduced  to  harmony.  It  will  also  appear 
that  the  rainfall  extremes  are  not  only  followed  invariably 
by  corresponding  fluctuations  in  the  water  levels,  but  that 
these  succeed  each  other  in  quite  as  marked  and  uniform 

The  rainfall  maxima  of  J836,  '44,  '55,  *68  and  '80 
have  their  corresponding  extremes  in  the  water  maxima 
of  1838,  '47,  *58,  '70  ^"d  '82, — the  intervals  or  lag  varying 
from  two  to  three  years.  The  rainfall  minima  of  1839, 
*50,  '60,  '*]2  and  '84  have  corresponding  lake  minima  in 
1841,  '54,  *65,  and  '75» — the  intervals  varying  from  two  to 
four  years.  The  mean  lag  is  2.8  years.  The  true  relation 
— dependence — of  the  lake  periodicities  upon  those  of  the 
rainfall  is  thus  clearly  shown. 

It  will  be  observed  that  I  have  chosen  to  consider  the 
Lake  Erie  levels  rather  than  those  of  Detroit  River.  I 
do  so  for  the  reason  that  the  relation  of  the  former  to  the 
precipitation  are  more  simple  and  direct,  and  are  not  in- 
fluenced by  causes  already  pointed  out  (page  463),  which 
tend  to  create  irregularities  in  the  river.  A  marked  illus- 
tration is  shown  between  the  years  1859  ^^^  1870, — 
where  dotted  lines  represent  the  rainfall  at  Milwaukee, 
and  the  river  levels  as  compare'd  with  those  of  Lake  Erie, 
— of   the  effect  of  excess  of   precipitation  on  the  lake3 


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above,  in   keeping   up   the   river   to   a   disproportionate 

I  do  not  consider  it  necessary  to  examine  the  various 
theories  which  have  been  broached  from  time  to  time,  in 
explanation  of  the  lake  periodical  fluctuations.  Nor  will 
I  undertake  to  explain  all  the  irregularities  of  the  river 
and  lake,  which  would  demand  many  factors  that  are 
wanting  to  the  present  discussion.  It  will  suffice  if  I 
have  succeeded  in  making  clear  the  relations  which 
exist  between  the  variations  of  the  water  levels  and  )t:he 
rainfall,  and  in  defining  their  periodicities.  Probably 
few  at  this  day  would  dispute  the  fact  that  the  rise  and 
fall,  or  "  secular  "  variations,  in  the  waters  are  dependent 
upon  the  rainfall.  This  is  the  first,  to  my  knowl- 
edge, at  demonstration  of  their  true  relations. 

Thus  far  I  have  not  alluded  to  the  important  element 
of  Temperature  in  its  relation  to  rainfall.  That  an  inti- 
mate relation  exists  is  an  admitted  fact ;  it  shall  be  my 
endeavor  to  show  what  this  relation  is. 

In  the  portion  of  the  diagram  devoted  to  the  Detroit 
temperature  curve,  the  horizontal  lines  represent  the  de- 
grees of  mean  annual  temperature,  which  varies  from  43  °, 
the  lowest,  to  52°,  the  highest  extreme.  Considering 
temperature  as  a  controlling  element,  we  should  expect 
to  find  a  close  correspondence  between  its  curves  and 
those  of  the  rainfall.  And  we  do  so  find,  as  is  shown 
by  the  diagram.  But,  while  the  maxima  and  minima 
of  the  rainfall  and  the  lake  are  directly  as  each  other,  we 
discover  that  those  of  the  rainfall  and  the  temperature 
are  inverse  to  each  other.  For  a  full  discussion  of  the 
relation  between  these  two  elements,  no  doubt  we  ought 
to  take  into  account  other  important  factors — barometric 


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changes,  winds,  magnetic  and  other  phenomena.  The 
conclusions  of  this  paper  are  deduced  only  from  the  data 
presented.     Let  us  now  compare  the  curves. 

The  maximum  temperature  periods  of  1839,  '48i  *59i 
'70  and  '82  at  Detroit  will  correspond  to  the  minimum  rain- 
fall periods  of  1839,  '5o>  '60,  '^2  and  '84, — if  we  credit  to 
the  latter  a  lag  or  interval  behind  the  temperature  pe- 
riods of  naught  to  two  years.  The  minimum  temperature 
periods  of  1835,  *43»  *54»  '66  and  '76  correspond  to  the 
maximum  rainfall  years  1836,  '44,  '55,  *68  and  '78  to  '80, 
with  a  lag  varying  from  one  to  four  years;  the  mean  of 
the  lag  being  1.8  years. 

If  this  showing  reverses  the  commonly  received  opinion 
that  high  temperature  is  followed  by  extreme  rainfall,  I 
can  only  say  that  the  facts,  as  I  find  them,  do  not  war- 
rant any  other  conclusion.  Let  the  reader  attempt  to 
connect  either  the  maxima  or  the  minima  of  the  curve  of 
temperature  with  the  like  periods  of  the  rainfall,  and  he 
will  find  it  necessary  to  admit  intervals  of  from  six  to 
nine  years,  a  conclusion  which  would  be  inconsistent 
with  any  influence  whatever. 

I  now  turn  to  another  element,  or  phenomenon,  which 
will  be  found  to  have  an  intimate  bearing  upon  our  inves- 

Recently,  much  speculation  has  been  elicited  by  the 
ascertained  periodicity  of  spots  on  the  sun*s  disc.  It  is 
now  an  admitted  fact  that  the  increase  and  decrease  of 
the  spots  affect  the  magnetic  needle,  and  influence  the 
earth's  magnetic  and  electrical  condition.  The  extent  to 
which  these  affect  the  meteorology  of  our  planet  is  a 
moot  question  with  the  learned  on  these  subjects. 

Some  noted  observers  in  Europe  and  India  maintain 


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SUN-SPOT  AND  LAKE  CURVES,     1769— 1834.  471 

the  theory  of  an  influence  exerted  by  the  sun-spots  upon 
the  rainfall,  and  this  directly  as  the  number  of  the 
spots.  In  this  lake  region,  attempts  to  establish  or 
define  these  relations  have  been  few  and  unsatisfactory. 
It  will  be  my  part  to  show  that  the  sun-spots  do  decid- 
edly influence  the  temperature,  and  indirectly  the  rainfall, 
and  that  the  curves  of  temperature  correspond  directly 
with  those  of  the  sun-spots.  This  correspondence  holds 
not  only  as  regards  the  maxima  and  minima  periods,  but 
as  to  the  general  features  of  the  two  curves. 

Wolfs  tables  of  the  sun-spots  from  1769  to  1882 
show  ten  periods  of  maxima,  and  as  many  of  minima, 
the  spots  ranging  from  o  in  a  minimum  year  to  150  in 
a  maximum  year.  Of  these  periods,  one-half  are  em- 
braced within  the  sixty-six  years  from  1769  to  1834. 
For  this  cycle  there  are  no  reliable  statistics  of  temper- 
ature and  rainfall ;  so  that  my  data  are  confined  to  the 
sun-spots  and  the  lake  periods,  of  which  I  present  a  tab- 
ular statement,  as  supplementary  to  Diagram  No.  i. 

Table  No.  i  exhibits  in  groups  : — 

1.  The  years  of  maximum  and  minimum  sun-spots 
from  1769  to  1834,  according  to  Wolf's  numbers, — the 
maxima  and  minima  in  separate  columns. 

2.  The  years  of  maximum  and  minimum  levels  of  Lake 
Erie,  which  are  given  in  feet  and  tenths  below  the  plane 
of  1838, — the  maxima  and   minima  in  separate  columns. 

3.  The  lag,  or  interval  in  time  at  which  the  periodic 
changes  in  the  lake  follow  inversely  those  of  the  sun- 
spots.  One  column  gives  the  number  of  years  lag  of 
the  lake  maxima  behind  the  sun-spot  minima;  the 
other  of  the  lake  minima  behind  the  sun  maxima. 

4.  The  sun  and  lake  '^ periods'^  In  one  column  are 
given  the  number  of  years  between  each  maximum  of 


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sun-spots  and  the  next  preceding  maximum,  and,  alter- 
nately, the  number  of  years  between  each  minimum  of 
spots  and  the  preceding  minimum.  In  the  other  column 
are  given  the  like  data  for  the  lake  periods. 

TABLE  NO.    I. 


1 769-1834. 





Below  1838 
Feet  &  Tenths. 







^A  C 


























47  I  3-5 









The  phenomena  which  this  table  makes  apparent  are: 
First,  that  what  I  have  called  the  sun  and  lake  periods  ap- 
proximate in  length,  and  the  means  of  each  are  nearly 
identical, — 12.3  and  12.6  years.  Second,  that  the  sun  and 
lake  periods  are  not  synchronous,  but  that  the  changes  in 
the  lake  follow  at  considerable  distance  (lag)  behind  the 
sun-spot  times.     Also  that  the  lake  maxima  lag  behind 


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SUN-SPOTS,  TEMPERATURE,  ETC.,  1834— 1886.        473 

the  sun-spot  minima  less  than  do  the  lake  minima  behind 
the  sun-spot  maxima;  the  means  being -respectively  3.5 
and  4.5  years.  That  is  to  say,  the  waters  fall  more  rapidly 
than  they  rise,  by  the  mean  of  a  year.  We  shall  see 
presently  how  far  these  statements  tally  with  the  data 
drawn  from  fuller  sources,  for  the  half-century  succeed- 

Let  us  now  turn  to  Diagram  No.  2,  which  exhibits  the 
sun-spot  curves  from  1834  to  1884,  paralleled  with  those 
of  the  temperature,  the  rainfall,  and  the  lake. 

We  see  five  "  periods  *'  of  sun-spot  maxima,  culminat- 
ing in  the  years  1838,  '48,  '60,  '70  and  '82  or  '83, — the 
number  of  spots  at  each  varying  from  95  to  150.  And 
five  of  sun-spot  minima — in  the  years  1834,  '44,  '56,  '6y 
and  '78,  the  spots  in  each  varying  from  five  to  ten.  The 
maximum  periods  recur  at  intervals  of  eight  to  twelve 
years — the  mean  being  10.6;  the  minimum  periods  at 
intervals  of  ten  to  twelve  years, — the  mean  being  11 
years.  With  the  aid  of  the  accompanying  Table  No.  2, 
we  may  proceed  to  compare  results. 

Table  No.  2  aims  to  give  in  a  succinct  form  all  the  data 
which  our  discussion  requires.  These  are  grouped  in  col- 
umns as  follows : 

The  first  group  gives  (in  three  columns)  the  sun-spot 
data,  in  the  same  manner  as  in  Table  No.  i,  viz.,  the  years 
of  maxima  and  minima,  the  number  of  spots  at  each,  and 
the  lengths  of  the  periods. 

The  second  or  temperature  group  gives  (in  two  col- 
umns) for  those  years  of  maxima  and  minima  which  con- 
form to  the  sun-spot  maxima  and  minima,  the  degrees  of 
temperature  (the  mean  of  the  year  at  Detroit),  and  the 
lengths  of  the  periods. 


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TABLE  NO.  2. 
























































































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The  rainfall  has  three  groups.  The  first  gives  for  De- 
troit (in  three  columns)  the  maximum  and  minimum 
periods,  the  precipitation  in  inches  at  each,  and  the  lag  or 
interval  at  which  each  follows,  inversely,  behind  those  of 
the  temperature.  Like  data  are  given  for  the  rainfall  at 
Milwaukee  and  at  Cleveland,  so  far  as  I  possess  data, 
omitting  the  column  of  lag. 

For  the  water  levels  there  are  two  groups,  each  show- 
ing (in  three  separate  columns)  the  periodicities,  the  meas- 
urements in  feet  and  tenths  below  the  plane  of  1838,  and 
the  lag  behind  the  rainfall  at  Detroit. 

Lastly  are  given  (as  in  Table  No.  i)  the  lag  of  the  lake 
behind  the  sun-spot  periods, — lake  maxima  behind  sun- 
spot  minima,  and  the  reverse. 

My  aim  is  to  exhibit  those  fluctuations  in  the  elements 
under  discussion  which  conform  to  the  sun-spot  period- 
icities, according  to  the  law  which  seems  to  govern,  viz., 
temperature  directly  as  the  sun-spots ;  rainfall  inversely 
as  the  temperature ;  lake  levels  directly  as  the  rainfall, 
and  the  periodical  changes  in  each,  following  uniformly 
those  of  the  preceding  or  influencing  element  by  a  lag 
of  short  interval ;  and  this  increasing  in  length  according 
to  the  remoteness  from  the  original  source  of  influence. 

When  we  consider  that  the  sun  is  itself  the  ultimate 
source  of  all  our  meteorological  phenomena,  the  fact  that 
the  periods  of  greater  and  less  energy  indicated  by  spots 
on  its  disc  have  a  well-marked  relationship  to  the  tem- 
perature and  rainfall  is  not  surprising.  While  there  are 
many  fluctuations  for  which  no  solution  is  attempted,  it 
suffices  if  we  are  able  to  point  out  well-defined  maxima 
and  minima  periodical  fluctuations  which  <:onform  to 
each  other  within  small  limitations. 

The  proof  does  not  rest  alone  upon  the  Detroit    obser- 


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vations.  Though  the  rainfall  at  Milwaukee  and  Cleve- 
land differs,  often  considerably,  in  times  and  amount,  from 
the  Detroit  record,  we  find  a  close  conformity  in  the  pe- 
riods. In  fact,  there  is  almost  identity  in  the  periodic 
means  of  all  the  elements  contained  in  the  table. 

The  two  columns  (on  the  right  of  the  table)  showing 
the  lag  of  Lake  Erie  behind  the  sun-spots  at  each  period, 
furnish  a  remarkable  confirmation  of  the  general  conclu- 
sions. Comparing  the  two  tables,  it  will  be  seen  that 
the  mean  periodicity  of  the  sun-spots  is  larger  for  the 
first  half-century  than  for  the  last,  by  1.7  years.  Yet  the 
same  relation  to  the  lake  periods  is  maintained  throughout 
both  cycles.  The  lag  for  the  maxima  and  for  the  minima 
periods  is  the  same  in  both  tables,  the  means  being  3.5 
years  and  4.5  years  respectively.  This  result  is  not 
merely  remarkable  ;  it  would  be  incomprehensible  on  any 
other  theory  than  that  here  contended  for.  Its  truth  or 
fallacy  the  reader  has  the  means  of  determining  if  he  will 
closely  study  the  details  given  in  the  table  and  the  dia- 

Another  feature  of  too  much  importance  to  escape  at- 
tention is  the  difference  in  all  the  curves  between  the 
scales  of  increase  and  of  decrease.  This  is  shown  by  the 
diagram,  and  is  computable  from  the  tables.  Thus, 
the  times  of  increase  in  the  sun-spot  curve,  from  minima 
to  maxima,  are  almost  uniformly  four  years ;  those  of  de- 
crease, or  from  maxima  to  minima,  six  to  eight  years. 
In  the  curve  of  the  temperature  these  periodic  times  are 
slightly  larger  in  the  rising,  and  slightly  less  in  the  falling 
scale.  The  rainfall  and  the  lake  times  are  more  irregular, 
and  fall  short  of  such  uniform  proportions.  As  regards 
the  rainfall  at  Detroit  the  case  seems  to  be  reversed,  the 
rbing  scale  being  accomplished  in  about  seven  years,  and 


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the  falling  in  about  four  years.  The  "  secular  periods  " 
of  Lake  Erie  exhibit  about  equal  scales.  During  the  cycle 
from  1779  to  1834  there  is  closer  correspondence  between 
the  lake  and  sun-spot  times,  the  scales  being  about  six 
years  and  seven  years,  respectively.  Is  it  not  possible 
that  the  traditional  French  weather-period  of  seven  years 
connects  itself  with  this  recurrence  of  a  period  of  about 
that  length  between  one  change  and  another? 

Thus  the  cycle  of  change  is  "  never  ending,  still  begin- 
ing."  On  its  restless  sea,  man  is  tossed  at  the  caprice  of 
billows,  whose  wave-lengths  are  intervals  of  eleven  years. 
The  law  of  change  runs  through  the  scale  from  cold  to 
warm  in  about  four  years,  repeated  after  intervals  of  seven  ; 
and  through  warm  to  cold  in  seven  years,  repeated  after 
intervals  of  four  years.  Meantime  the  changes  from  wet 
to  dry  are  accomplished  in  equal  times,  but  in  reversed 
order,  and  after  a  delay  of  one  or  two  years  before  the 
concord  begins. 

To  sum  up,  it  seems  to  me  demonstrated,  as  regards 
this  region : — 

1.  That  the  so-called  "secular"  changes  in  the  levels 
of  the  river  and  lakes  are  dependent  upon  the  rainfall. 

2.  That  these  changes  in  their  maxima  and  minima 
fall  behind  the  rainfall  extremes  in  time,  varying  from 
two  to  three  years. 

3.  That  the  times  of  maximum  and  minimum  rainfall 
occur  inversely  as  the  temperature,  and  follow  after,  with 

.  mean  intervals  of  one  or  two  years. 

4.  That  the  times  of  maximum  and  minimum  temper- 
ature occur  directly  as  the  sun-spots,  with  very  small  or 
no  intervals. 

5.  That  the  times  of  high  and  low  water  of  the  lakes 


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and  river  follow  behind  the  sun-spots,  inversely,  by  a 
double  lag, — of  lake  behind  rainfall  and  of  rainfall  be- 
hind sun-spots, — the  mean  of  both  being  four  years. 

6.  That  the  periods  of  maximum  and  minimum  sun- 
spots,  temperature  and  rainfall  have  an  intimate  relation 
to  each  other,  and  that  this  relation  appears  in  the  re- 
spective periodicities,  which  differ  but  little,  while  the 
means  are  nearly  identical. 

7.  That  the  scale  of  increase,  or  interval  from  minimum 
to  maximum,  of  the  sun-spots  and  the  temperature  is 
considerably  shorter  than  the  scale  of  decrease ;  the  re- 
verse being  true  as  regards  the  rainfall.  And  thus  the 
intervals  between  cold  and  warm  years,  and  between  dry 
and  wet  years,  are  less  than  those  of  the  opposite  condi- 
tions by  about  three  years. 

The  question  naturally  arises,  How  far  do  the  con- 
clusions here  recorded  afford  a  foundation  for  forecasting 
the  meteorology  of  the  future  ? 

If  all  the  wave  periods  were  of  equal  lengths  and 
times,  with  sufficient  allowance  made  for  other  factors  not 
within  our  present  discussion,  we  ought  to  do  so  with 
exactitude.  But  though  our  sovereign  governor — the 
sun — exhibits  a  considerable  degree  of  regularity  in  the 
increase  and  decrease  of  his  spots,  he  has  not  as  yet  ad- 
mitted us  into  the  secret  either  of  the  cause  or  of  the 
extent  and  frequency  of  his  variations. 

We  have  also  seen  that  while  the  curves  of  temperature 
and  rainfall  are  controlled  by  the  sun-spot  periods,  their 
times  of  maxima  and  minima  are  not  therefore  synchro- 
nous. This  is  true  to  some  extent  as  between  the  sun 
and  the  temperature,  while  those  of  the  rainfall  are  not 
only  inverse  to,  but  lag  behind,  the  temperature  extremes, 
with  varying  times.    There  follows  therefore  a  difference, 


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both  in  the  lengths  and  the  times  of  the  periodicities'  of 
each.  Owing  to  this  lag,  and  its  variation  in  time  of  one 
to  five  years,  it  follows  that  when  the  temperature  curve 
is  at  its  maximum  or  its  minimum,  that  of  the  rainfall 
is  not  necessarily  at  its  lowest  or  its  highest.  In  fact, 
such  a  conjunction  may  be  brought  about  in  the  progress 
of  time,  that  a  wet  period  may  correspond  in  time  to  a 
warm  one,  and  vice  versUy  and  yet  the  law  of  opposites 
continue  absolutely  persistent. 

This  observation  applies  with  even  greater  force  to 
the  lake  curves,  the  lag  in  which  is  uniformly  greater 
than  in  those  of  precipitation.  Thus  it  has  happened 
three  times  within  the  last  half-century  that  high  water 
in  Lake  Erie  has  corresponded  in  time  with  a  high  sun- 
spot  period. 

Another  cause  of  lack  of  uniformity  in  the  several 
curves  is  found  in  the  difference — already  alluded  to — be- 
tween the  lengths  of  the  rising  and  the  falling  sides. 
The  result  is  a  difference  in  the  intervals  between  ex- 
treme cold  and  warm  years,  and  extreme  wet  and  dry 
ones,  which  would  not  be  the  case  if  the  times  of  in- 
crease and  decrease  were  equal. 

We  observe  also,  in  noting  the  curves  of  temperature, 
as  each  approaches  its  low  extreme,  a  sudden  dropping 
of  the  temperature  from  a  somewhat  regular  gradation, 
two  to  five  degrees,  during  one,  two  or  three  years. 
And  in  the  approach  to  maxima  a  rise  nearly  as  pre- 
cipitate. This  has  its  parallel  in  the  rainfall, — the  pre- 
cipitation experiencing  a  sudden  increase  in  the  high  ex- 
tremes of  from  four  to  thirteen  inches,  and  during  low 
extremes  of  from  four  to  eight  inches,  within  one  or  two 

In  these  records  of  the  past  century,  imperfect  as  they 


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4  HOROSCOPE,  481 

are,  will  be  found  suggestions  of  more  subtle  and  funda- 
mental laws.  The  reader  may  notice  a  succession  of 
three  large  sun-spot  waves  or  periods  followed  by  three 
lesser  ones.  They  call  to  mind  that  succession  of  waves 
in  the  sea,  called  by  sailors  "  the  three  sisters/*  and  of  the 
three-day  weather  period  with  which  we  are  familiar. 
The  conjecture  may  be  warranted  that  we  have  here  an 
indication  of  a  major  vibration  of  a  six-period  duration. 
It  may  be  that  all  these  cycles  are  but  members  of  a 
grander  whole,  whose  circles  reach  beyond  our  present 
ken,  and  to  a  perfect  conception  of  which  we  may  never 
attain,  except  perchance  in  that  good  time  coming,  when 
man*s  knowledge  shall  equal  his  aspirations.  These  con- 
siderations, and  many  more  of  which  we  are  in  ignorance, 
must  enter  into  a  calculation  of  the  true  horoscope  of 
the  future. 

Nevertheless,  we  know  that  Nature  governs  by  unvary- 
ing law.  Assuming  that  her  periodicities  will  bring 
about  the  same  average  results  in  the  future  as  in  the  past 
half-century,  I  might  undertake  to  be  in  some  sort  her 
interpreter  of  the  coming  events  which  cast  their  shadows 
before,  along  the  pathway  of  a  few  unborn  years  ;  pro- 
vided the  same  latitude  be  accorded  me  which  was 
claimed  by  the  old  almanac-makers,  to  qualify  the  record 
with  **  about  ....  these  ....  days.*' 

Premising  that  the  sun-spot  curve,  which  for  five 
years  had  been  on  the  rising  scale,  attained  its  maximum 
in  1883,  we  may  infer  that  the  temperature  is  now  on  its 
descending  grade,  and  should  reach  its  minimum  by  1889 
or  1890.  The  yearly  mean,  which  for  ten  years  past  has 
maintained  an  unusually  high  degree,  with  small  range, 
will  fall  rapidly  five  degrees  or  more.  "  Look  out  for  ... 
cold  ....  weather  ....  about  ....  these  ....  years." 


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The  rainfall,  which,  in  accordance  with  its  law  of  op- 
position and  of  lag,  fell  in  1886  to  the  low  measure  of  25 
inches,  is  likely  to  continue  small  for  a  year  or  more  to 
come.  "  Expect  a  .  .  .  .  period  of  drought  ....  about 
.  •  .  •  this ....  time."  The  increasing  precipitation  fol- 
lowing should  reach  its  maximum  about  the  beginning 
of  the  last  cycle  of  the  century,  though  the  remaining 
years  promise  small  precipitation.  Maxima,  or  wet  pe- 
riods, seem  also  to  be  indicated  for  the  years  1903  or  '04, 
191 3  and  1924;  and  low,  or  dry  periods,  about  1895  or 
'96,  1909  and  1 91 9  or  '20. 

Following  these  leads,  lake  and  river  levels  will  rise  to 
their  culminations,  it  is  probable,  about  1894,  1906,  1916, 
and  1927,  and  fall  to  low  levels  about  1888,  1899,  ^9^2  or 
'13,  and  1 92 1.  The  depression  of  1888  is  likely  to  reach 
a  lower  stage  than  any  experienced  since  1841. 

None  need  be  surprised  ki  the  remaining  years  of  the 
century  witness  disasters  to  the  husbandman  from  drought 
and  frosts,  and  to  the  business  man  from  commercial  dis- 
asters and  stagnation  in  trade. 

The  new  century,  though  opening  with  cold  and  wet, 
gives  promise,  in  its  first  cycle,  of  returning  general  pros- 
perity, inaugurated  by  abundant  crops,  and — if  the  na- 
tion be  wise — by  freer  trade,  restored  commerce,  satisfied 
wages,  and  solid  wealth.     Blessed  be  the  sun-spots  ! 


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**  Let  Araby  boast  of  her  soft  spicy  gale. 
And  Persia  her  breeze  from  the  rose-scented  vale ; 
Let  orange  trees  scatter  in  wildness  their  balm, 
Where  sweet  summer  islands  lie  fragrant  and  calm ; 
Give  me  the  cold  blast  of  my  country  again, 
Careering  o*er  snow-covered  mountain  and  plain, 
And  coming,  though  scentless,  yet  pure,  to  my  breast, 
With  vigor  and  health  from  the  cloudless  Nor*- West." 

Dr.  J,  K.  Mitchell. 

"  All  nature  feels  the  renovating  force 
Of  winter ;  only  to  the  thoughtless  eye 
Is  ruin  seen.** 



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THE  region  bordering  Detroit  River  and  Lake  Eriie 
in  its  winter  climate,  exhibits  signally  the  melio- 
rating influence  of  large  bodies  of  water.  It  experiences 
an  exemption  from  the  greater  degree  of  cold  which  pre- 
vails in  the  same  latitudes  both  east  and  west. 

Some  very  cold  days  occur,  when  the  mercury  falls 
below  zero  of  Fahrenheit.  The  lowest  degree  registered 
at  Detroit  during  the  last  fifty  years,  from  1835  to  1886, 
is — 20°.  During  the  same  cold  storms  in  Central  New 
York  and  New  England  it  fell  to  — 35*^  and  — ^40^,  and 
even  lower  on  the  Western  plains. 

A  great  depth  of  snow  is  also  rare,  and  it  is  not  un- 
common to  have  none  sufficient  for  sleighing  during  a 
whole  winter,  or,  at  most,  for  a  few  days  only.  At  the 
same  time  large  bodies  of  snow  lie  upon  the  ground  in 
the  central  portions  of  this  State,  and  through  Canada 
and  the  Eastern  States. 

Ordinarily  winter  cold  fairly  sets  in  about  the  end  of 
November,  but  frequently  delays  until  December  and 
even  January.  December  often  presents  a  succession  of 
clear  days,  with  a  temperature  below  freezing  at  night, 
and  rising  a  little  above  it  during  the  day  ;  a  state  of  the 
atmosphere  very  exhilarating,  and  which  tempts  to  out- 
of-door  life  and  walking. 

January  is  generally  the  coldest  month,  and  the  most 
snowy.     Frequently  snow  falls  in  sufficient  quantity  or 



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persistence  for  good  sleighing  only  in  the  latter  part  of 
the  month,  continuing  into  the  following  month.  By  the 
middle  of  February  it  is  usual  for  the  snow  to  disappear 
for  the  remainder  of  the  season. 

Detroit  River  ordinarily  is  bridged  with  ice  once  or 
twice  during  the  winter,  for  a  few  days  at  a  time.  And 
there  have  been  seasons  when  teams  have  crossed  on  the 
ice  for  weeks  together. 

On  the  other  hand,  winters  are  not  infrequent  when  the 
channel  of  the  river  has  continued  constantly  open  and 
free  from  ice,  except  occasional  floating  masses  from  the 
lakes  above. 

Generally  this  river  is  open  to  navigation  a  full  month 
before  the  ice  leaves  the  harbor  of  Buffalo,  or  there  is 
passage  for  vessels  through  the  Straits  of  Mackinaw. 
Whenever  any  of  the  harbors  of  Lake  Erie  are  open 
it  is  a  certainty  that  vessels  may  enter  the  harbor  of 

The  first  approach  of  winter  in  this  climate  is  almost 
always  dismal.  The  frosty  nights  which  precede  would 
be  pleasant  enough  if  they  did  not  always  come  a  little 
too  soon  for  our  preparation,  and  when  they  are  followed 
by  cloudless  days,  as  is  generally  the  case,  the  cold  is  in- 

But  the  first  snow  is  altogether  another  thing.  No- 
vember snows  seldom  lie  long  on  the  ground  ;  the  sun  is 
still  too  powerful.  They  last,  it  may  be,  through  one  or 
two  cold  days,  and  then  thaw  into  slush  and  mud.  The 
atmosphere  is  then  chilly  and  uncomfortable ;  the  earth 
is  wet  and  dirty.  No  word  is  too  harsh  to  express  the 
utter  discomfort  of  such  days,  which  have  all  the  gloom 
of  winter  without  any  of  its  delights. 


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In  our  variable  climate  but  little  dependence  can  be 
placed  on  any  long  continuance  of  cold  or  heat.  From 
the  fall  of  the  leaf  we  know  that  summer  has  ended. 
The  hard  frosts  advertise  the  presence  of  winter,  but  after 
his  first  frowns  he  often  treats  us  to  a  long  holiday  of 
genial  smiles.  Many  days  occur,  even  in  midwinter, 
when  the  air  is  mild  and  balmy  as  in  summer ;  when  the 
frost  has  altogether  left  us ;  when  even  the  mud  is  dried 
up,  and  the  river,  free  from  its  icy  chains,  flows  majesti- 
cally; days  as  bland  and  invigorating  to  soul  and 
body  as  it  is  possible  to  conceive.  Such  "spells"  are 
very  common  indeed  in  this  locality,  where  there  is 
tisually  so  little  snow,  or  long  continuance  of  extreme 

Whittier  has  well  described  this  dream  of  summer  in 
winter : 

**  Bland  as  the  morning  breath  of  June 

The  south-west  breezes  play ; 
And,  through  its  haze,  the  winter  noon 

Seems  warm  as  summer's  day. 
The  snow-plumed  Angel  of  the  North 

Has  droppM  his  icy  spear ; 
Again  the  mossy  earth  looks  forth, 

Again  the  streams  gush  clear." 

The  winter  of  1837-38  was  of  this  *'  open  '*  and  genial 
character.  Navigation  closed  on  the  8th  of  December, 
but  so  mild  was  the  following  January  that  steamers 
again  made  trips  to  Cleveland,  and  boats  patrolled  the 
river  during  the  whole  month. 

The  first  two  months  of  1842  were  still  more  remarka- 
ble for  mildness,  and  this  character  of  the  winter  pre- 
vailed, not  only  in  the    neighborhood  of    Detroit,   but 


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488  OUR  WINTER^. 

throughout  the  northerly  part  of  the  United  States.  It 
was  accompanied  with  heavy  and  frequent  rains,  and  con- 
sequent extensive  freshets.  The  Buffalo  Journal  of  Jan. 
30,  says,  **  For  many  days  past  the  air  has  resembled 
that  of  April.  Yesterday  was  as  bright  and  balmy  as 
those  calm  days  of  spring  when  all  things  animate  are  re- 
joicing ;  to-day  a  sad  change  to  drizzling  showers.  Navi- 
gation of  our  lake  continues  perfectly  open." 

The  papers  of  Rochester  (N.  Y.)  tell  of  "  grass-hoppers 
an  inch  long  jumping  about  the  gardens.** 

Here  the  mean  temperature  of  the  season  was  about  4° 
above  the  normal,  of  27.3^.  The  maximum,  of  both  Jan- 
uary and  February  was  56°,  the  minimum  +4°  in 
February.  The  precipitation  was  a  little  below  the 
winter  average  of  6  inches. 

The  winter  of  1844-45  was  of  similar  mildness.  The 
lake  harbors  below  were  open,  and  steamers  plied  be- 
tween Buffalo  and  Detroit  every  month.  In  this  neigh- 
borhood the  ground  was  bare  of  snow  the  entire  winter, 
and  the  ice  men  were  able  to  harvest  only  three  inches 
thickness  of  ice  from  the  river.  The  mean  temperature 
of  the  season  was  3*^  above  the  normal,  and  the  precipi- 
tation 3  inches  below.  In  the  Eastern  States,  while  the 
season  was  uncommonly  mild,  severe  snow-storms  oc- 
curred in  February. 

The  winters  of  1847-48  and  of  1852-53,  were  also  un- 
commonly mild  and  without  snow.  During  the  first, 
steamers  made  trips  to  Buffalo,  and  the  Hudson  River 
was  open  in  February,  1853. 

The  winter  of  1857-58  until  February  was  yet  more 
mild  and  open.  From  all  parts  of  the  country  the  report 
is  "  no  snow,  and  an  atmosphere  like  spring.**     On  the 


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last  day  of  January  violets  were  in  bloom  in  my  garden. 

The  winter  of  1879-80  opened  without  frost  and  with 
heavy  rains  at  night.  On  the  morning  of  December  15, 
a  light  snow  left  its  ermine  mantle  on  tree  and  shrub, — 
a  glorious  spectacle.  Snow  continued  to  fall  to  six  inches 
depth,  and  the  thermometer  fell  to  12°  and  afterwards 
to  — 2^,  which  was  the  coldest  of  the  winter.  By 
New  Year  s  day  all  snow  had  disappeared  in  the  prevail- 
ing warm.  Heavy  rains  fell  early  in  the  month,  swell- 
ing the  streams  and  demoralizing  the  roads.  By  the 
middle  of  the  month  the  ground  was  bare,  and  so  con- 
tinued throughout  that  month  and  February. 

The  maximum  temperature  in  January  was  57°,  min- 
imum 19°  ;  maximum  temperature  in  February  was  60°, 
minimum,  11  °.  The  mean  of  the  whole  season  was  30*^, 
or  6°  above  the  average;  the  precipitation  8.9  inches,  or 
3  inches  above  the  average. 

The  winters  so  far  alluded  to  would  be  considered  in 
general  language  as  **mild  and  open.*'  Before  proceed- 
ing to  notice  those  of  an  opposite  character,  it  may  be 
well  to  see  whether  we  can  arrange  the  whole  series  into 
two  classes,  with  reference  to  the  controlling  elements. 

Many  winters  are  so  changeable,  yet  so  near  the  aver- 
age in  temperature,  that  it  is  not  easy  to  determine  to 
which  class  they  belong.  But  by  arranging  on  one  side 
those  whose  mean  is  considerably  above,  and  on  the 
other  those  which  are  below  the  winter  mean  of  the 
series,  with  the  aid  of  general  memoranda,  a  tabular 
division  may  be  made  as  below.  In  this  table  those 
years  whose  means  vary  but  little  from  each  other,  and 
which  are  in  immediate  succession,  are  grouped  together. 


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1837  to  1842 . 











1880-82  . . . . 


of  years 

Range ....     5. 5 
Mean 29. 2 







27  5 






















Range 2. 

Mean 24.4 


No.  of 







Mean  of  the  whole  series  =  27.3° 

Here  we  find  that  of  the  50  winters  since  1835,  27  may 
be  classed  as  similar  in  character  to  those  we  above  de- 
scribed as  "  warm,*' averaging  about  2°  of  temperature 
above  the  normal ;  and  that  23  may  be  classed  as  "  cold," 
their  temperature  averaging  3°  below  the  normal.     The 


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latter  are  universally  followed  by  raw,  cold  and  backward 
springs.  In  fact  the  succeeding  March  is  often  more  in 
sympathy  with  winter  than  spring,  and  would  find  place 
with  it  if  nature  had  the  making  of  our  calendar. 

Let  us  now  notice  some  of  the  winters  which  contrast 
with  those  we  have  described.  The  table  shows  how  fre- 
quently (but  not  invariably),  a  mild  and  open  winter  is 
followed  by  a  cold  and  stormy  or  snowy  one. 

Thus  the  winter  which  succeeded  the  mild  one  of  1842 
was  in  striking  contrast.  Snow  fell  on  Nov.  18,  1842, 
followed  by  a  steady  cold  and  successive  snowfalls,  which 
continued  until  April.  Detroit  River  remained  frozen 
nearly  the  whole  winter,  and  teams  crossed  on  the  ice 
throughout  March.  With  one  week's  exception,  there 
was  good  sleighing  in  and  about  Detroit  until  the  8th  of 
April.  Lake  Erie  was  so  frozen  over  that  teams  are  said 
to  have  crossed,  throughout  the  winter,  from  various 
places  on  the  south  shore  into  Canada.  It  presented  to 
view  a  great  icy  plain,  from  which  no  water  could  be 
seen.  Large  quantities  of  ice  floated  down  the  lake  early 
in  the  season,  became  wedged  in  and  froze,  in  many 
places  probably  in  a  solid  mass  to  the  bottom.  Many 
thought  this  shallow  lake  was  a  mass  of  ice  throughout. 
A  Buffalo  journal  said  that  **  on  going  out  a  mile  from 
shore  and  cutting  through  the  ice  in  three  several  places 
the  result  was,  28,  29 J^  and  31  inches  of  as  solid  and 
transparent  an  article  as  ever  graced  an  ice-house." 

The  following  March  was  practically  a  winter  month 
and  can  be  appropriately  described  only  in  this  connec- 
tion. It  was  noticeable  for  its  unprecedented  snowfalls 
throughout  the  United  States. 

On  the  i6th,  snow  fell  in  New  York  city  to  a  depth  of 


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1 8  inches.  At  Washington,  D.  C,  railway  trains  were 
delayed  a  whole  day  by  snow  a  foot  in  depth.  Snow 
fell  throughout  South  Carolina,  and  reached  even  New 

Through  New  York  and  the  Eastern  States  the  heavy 
foot  of  this  wintry  spring  fell  with  tremendous  weight. 
The  storms  seemed  to  rival  those  of  Alpine  regions.  On 
the  1 8th  of  March  the  train  of  cars  which  left  Albany  for 
Boston,  propelled  by  five  locomotives,  proceeded  about 
three  miles,  when  it  encountered  such  a  depth  of  com- 
pact snow  that  it  was  compelled  to  return. 

On  the  next  day  the  train  which  left  Boston  for  Albany 
proceeded  six  miles,  when  it  became  fast  in  the  snow, 
and  the  passengers  left  it  and  returned.  In  many  places 
the  snow  drifted  15  feet.  In  one  place,  east  of  Utica,  it 
is  said  to  have  been  40  feet  deep. 

A  correspondent  of  the  New  York  American^  writing 
from  Whitesboro,  N.  Y.,  under  date  of  March  19,  gives 
a  graphic  description  of  the  state  of  things  in  that  region  : 
**  On  all  sides  of  us,  as  far  as  the  eye  can  penetrate,  there 
is  a  desolating  expanse  of  virgin  snow.  There  is  not  a 
mountain  around  us  that  does  not  exhibit  its  towering 
masses  of  snow,  shining  like  precious  stones  in  the  morn- 
ing sun,  and  moulded  into  all  the.  fantastic  shapes  that 
the  wildest  fancy  can  invent.  The  valley  is  full.  Every 
road  is  embargoed.  The  Seneca  turnpike,  leading  west 
from  Utica,  was  open  yesterday  only  a  mile--  The  north- 
ern road,  leading  up  over  the  hills  through  Trenton,  is  as 
unfurrowed  by  a  track  as  the  broad  meadows  on  each 
side  of  it.  In  truth,  the  entire  land  from  Albany  to  Buf- 
falo is  an  ocean  of  snow.  The  railroads  have  lost  tbeir 
occupation  !  ** 

On  the  prairies  west  of  Chicago  trains  were  blocked 


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Up  by  the  snow  many  miles  from  the  settlements,  where 
they  remained  for  several  days.  No  help  could  reach 
them  from  any  direction.  The  passengers  subsisted  on 
oysters  and  other  stores  found  in  the  cars,  and  burned  up 
seats  and  other  portions  of  the  cars  for  fuel. 

The  poets  and  story-tellers  of  Europe  delight  to  give 
us  exaggerated  descriptions  of  winter  in  his  fierce  aspects ; 
but  such  an  exhibition  of  **  the  storms  of  wintry  time,*' 
it  is  probable,  never  occur  in  the  same  zone  in  any  other 
part  of  the  world,  except  upon  the  high  mountain  tops  of 
Alpine  regions. 

So  protracted  a  winter  could  not  be  otherwise  than 
fatally  severe  to  cattle.  In  the  inland  parts  of  Michigan, 
snow  lay  for  several  months  three  or  four  feet  deep  on  a 
level.  Even  in  the  woods  about  Detroit  it  was  a  foot  in 
depth.  It  is  very  unusual  for  cattle  to  be  deprived  of 
grazing  for  so  long  a  period.  In  the  consequent  failure 
of  fodder  many  farmers  cut  down  trees,  upon  which 
their  "  critters  *'  browsed,  and  managed  thus  to  support 
a  meagre  life.  They  perished  by  hundreds  in  all  parts  of 
the  State.  The  same  was  the  case  in  Northern  Ohio. 
Many  were  killed  "  to  save  them.** 

Yet  it  was  reported  that  at  Sault  Ste.  Marie  and  other 
Northern  places,  the  winter  proved  unusually  mild  and 
open.  The  Ohio  River  was  navigable  from  the  middle 
of  February. 

Cold  and  protracted  as  was  this  winter  season,  its  mean 
was  but  little  below  the  normal,  and  the  lowest  minimum 
was  — 6°   in  February. 

Following  the  unusually  open  and  mild  winter  of 
1848,  that  of  1848-49  set  in  about  Christmas,  with 
snow,  which  continued  throughout  the  season.  In  the  in- 
terior of  the  State  and  in  Ohio  fruit  trees  were  killed  by 


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the  severity  or  long  continuance  of  the  cold ;  though  the 
lowest  of  the  thermometer  was  but — 14®  at  Detroit,  and 
the  snow-fall  was  only  two-thirds  the  winter  average. 

The  winter  of  1855-56  was  a  very  severe  one.  The 
lowest  degree  noted  here  was — 14*^  ;  but  elsewhere  in 
the  State  it  fell  to  — 24  ° .  The  usual  January  thaw  did  not 
occur,  nor  was  there  a  day  during  that  month  when  the 
snow  melted,  even  in  the  sun.  Cold  continued  through- 
out February,  with  good  sleighing,  and  only  a  slight 
thaw.  I  find  noted  that  I  crossed  on  the  ice  to  Canada, 
wuth  hundreds  of  others,  railway  passengers,  on  the 
15th  of  March;  the  ferry-boats  being  unable  to  force  a 

Reports  from  all  parts  of  the  country  indicated  this 
winter  as  one  of  general  and  unusual  severity.  Snow 
fell  throughout  the  Southern  States,  and  ice  formed  at 

January,  1857,  was  remarkable  for  its  extremity  of  cold 
all  over  the  Union.  On  the  24th  the  thermometer  indi- 
cated — ^40°  in  northern  New  England.  In  central  New 
York — 30°.  In  portions  of  Michigan  — 20  °.  At  Detroit 
— 18°.  At  New  Orleans  it  stood  at  28°  for  three  days. 
A  snow-storm  occurred  at  the  City  of  Mexico,  lasting 
several  hours, — a  most  unusual  phenomenon.  Early  in 
February  thaw  set  in,  with  heavy  rains  and  melting  of 
the  snow,  which  flooded  the  country.  This  was  followed 
by  a  second  edition  of  winter,  lasting,  with  frost  and 
snow,  almost  into  the  summer  months. 

The  winter  of  1872-73,  succeeding  the  cold  and  stormy 
one  of  '72,  proved  even  more  severe,  though  it  followed 
immediately  upon  a  genial  summer  and  dry  autumn.  It  set 
in  during  November,  with  considerable  snow.  During 
December  there  was  no  complete  thaw.     A  fall  of  snow, 


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of  SIX  inches,  on  the  20th,  was  followed  by  extreme  cold. 
On  the  2 1st,  the  thermometer  indicated — 14°,  andon22d, 
— 18°.  This  cold  spell  was  general  over  the  United 
States.  At  the  same  period  reports  from  Europe  told 
of  drenching  rains,  causing  immense  floods  in  Italy,  Ger- 
many, France  and  England. 

With  us  the  abundance  of  snow  made  the  holidays 
lively,  but  did  not  assist  to  supply  the  water  famine. 
Cisterns  were  so  low  that  many  residents  in  the  city 
suburbs  were  compelled  to  resort  to  the  river.  The 
drought  was  general  over  the  State.  The  month  closed 
with  a  foot  of  snow  in  the  streets  of  Detroit. 

Storms  continued  through  January,  with  deeply  drifted 
snows  all  over  the  Western  States,  broken  only  by  a 
single  day's  thaw  (i6th),  when  rain  fell  in  floods. 

On  January  23,  1873,  set  in  one  of  the  most  violent 
snow-storms  ever  experienced  here.  It  continued  all  day, 
with  an  easterly  wind  driving  at  the  rate,  apparently,  of 
40  or  50  miles  an  hour,  with  a  blinding  snow,  which 
fell  a  foot  in  depth.  Snow  continued  to  fall  at  intervals 
the  next  day,  but  with  less  violent  easterly  wind.  In- 
tense cold  followed.  On  28th,  my  thermometer  (Spring- 
wells)  indicated — 20°,  but  the  Signal  Service  Office  in 
Detroit,  recorded  only — 12°. 

February  continued  cold,  with  a  few  days  of  thaw,  be- 
ginning on  the  1 8th,  which  removed  most  of  the  snow 
from  open  grounds.  On  23d,  the  mercury  was  again 
below  zero,  from  St.  Louis  to  Philadelphia. 

The  remainder  of  the  month  was  more  moderate,  but 
March  came  in  like  a  lion,  with  cold  5°  below  zero. 
Notwithstanding  the  continued  and  abundant  snow,  the 
winter  precipitation,  as  determined  by  the  Signal  Service 
Station,  was  only  four  inches,  or  two-thirds  the  normal 


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amount.  The  temperature  mean  was  25  °,  or  two  degrees 
below  normal. 

The  winter  of  1874-75  was  extremely  cold,  having  the 
lowest  mean  of  any  in  my  series,  19°.  And  very  dry, — 
the  precipitation  being  3.3  inches  only,  or  half  the  normal 

February  was  especially  noted  for  its  continued  suc- 
cession of  cold  waves,  which  were  felt  all  over  the  United 
States,  the  Pacific  Isles  and  Europe.  The  temperature 
iell  to  — 20°  at  Detroit,  and  was  below  zero  for  fourteen 

The  winter  of  1876-77  was  of  that  peculiar  character 
which  refuses  definite  classification. 

December  was  steadily  cold,  -without  thaw,  except  of 
a  single  day's  duration,  and  sleighing  was  in  perfection 
all  the  month.  By  the  20th  the  ice-houses  were  filled 
with  transparent  blocks,  a  foot  and  more  in  thickness. 

The  grounding  of  ice  at  the  islands  and  shallows  in  the 
lower  part  of  the  river  effected  so  complete  a  blockade, 
as  to  set  back  the  water,  for  many  days,  to  an  unusual 
height  at  the  wharves  in  the  city,  and  so  filled  the  whole 
channel  with  heavy  ice  as  greatly  to  impede  the  passage 
of  the  ferry-boats.  The  railway-car  ferries  were  on  one 
occasion,  for  a  whole  day,  embargoed  in  the  middle  of 
the  stream,  unable  to  advance  or  recede,  the  cars  filled 
with  anxious  passengers.  The  lowest  degree  reached  by 
the  thermometer  was  — 9  ° ,  but  the  mean  of  the  month 
was  18.5°,  or  II  degrees  below  thenormal.  The  amount 
of  snow-fall,  converted  to  its  liquid  equivalent,  was  re- 
ported as  1.9  inches,  which  is  above  the  average. 

January  was  also  of  steady  cold,  the  sleighing  constant 
and  good,  without  thaw  until  the  29th.  The  river  re- 
mained frozen  over,  and  the  ice  crops  were  never  so  abun- 


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dant  and  fine.  The  lowest  temperature  was  — 5  ° ,  and  the 
mean  of  the  month,  20°.  Precipitation,  one  and  a  quar- 
ter inches.     Prevailing  wind,  south-west. 

The  thaw  which  began  on  the  29th  January  proved 
to  be  the  precursor  of  a  complete  and  most  extraor- 
dinary change  in  the  programme  of  the  clerk  of  the 
weather.  February  was  as  sunny  and  warm  as  the  two 
preceding  months  had  been  overcast  and  cold.  A  de- 
lightful temperature  prevailed  throughout  the  month, 
thawing  by  day  and  freezing  by  night,  the  snow  grad- 
ually disappearing.  Frost  also  left  the  earth,  and  the 
roads  became  uniformly  hard  and  dry, — no  mud,  no  ruts,  no 
rain,  no  snow, — and  nearly  every  day  balmy  and  cloud- 
less. The  highest  barometer,  with  least  range,  the  high- 
est temperature  and  highest  means  of  both,  for  the  last 
five  years.  The  precipitation  was  almost  too  small  to  be 
registered  (0.04  inches),  and  the  wind,  which  continued 
to  prevail  from  the  south-west,  had  little  velocity. 

All  this  geniality  was  reversed  by  the  spring  which  fol- 
owed ;  an  account  of  which  is  reserved  for  my  notes  on 
that  season. 

The  long  continued,  severe  cold  of  the  winter  of  1884- 
8'5  is  so  fresh  in  the  memory  of  all  who  undertake  to  read 
these  minutes  that  I  will  make  a  brief  allusion  to  it  only. 
That  winter  is  specially  noticeable  for  the  rapid  succes- 
sion of  cold  waves  from  the  North-west,  which  involved 
in  their  widespread  sweep  the  greater  part  of  the  United 
States,  and  were  very  remarkable. 

But  though  the  sensible  cold  was  so  severely  felt,  the 
actual  mean  temperature  was  but  2°  below  the  normal. 
A  low  degree  of  temperature  ran  through  the  three 
months,  the  minima  being  respectively — 6°, — 17°  and 


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— 12°.    The  precipitation  was  normal,  and  the  weather 
very  changeable. 

The  advent  of  1864  will  be  remembered  for  a  very  sud- 
den and  violent  reversal  of  the  temperature.  Through- 
out December  the  weather  had  been  mild,  with  but  little 
frost,  and  the  river  contained  only  occasional  masses  of 
floating  ice.  The  last  day  of  the  year  was  attended  with 
rain,  the  wind  being  from  the  east  and  north-east.  Late 
at  night  the  wind  shifted  to  west,  bringing  extreme  cold. 
At  7  A.M.  New  Year's  morning,  the  mercury  indicated 
— 5*^.  It  continued  to  fall  during  the  day,  and  at  night 
stood  at  — 20°,  passing  through  sixty  degrees  in  twenty- 
four  hours ;  from  the  summer  of  the  temperate  zone  to 
an  arctic  winter ! 

With  us  but  little  snow  fell  during  this  violent  change. 
The  day  was  clear,  with  a  strong  west  wind,  which  at 
Buffalo  raised  the  water  of  the  lake  twenty  feet. 

Westward  the  cold  was  preceded  by  a  heavy  snow-fall. 
The  railways  terminating  at  Chicago  were  reported 
stopped  by  snow.  The  mercury  fell  to  — 28^  ° .  At  St. 
Louis  no  trains  arrived  for  two  days,  and  the  Mississippi 
was  closed  by  ice.  The  storm  extended  as  far  north  as 
Green  Bay,  and  as  far  south  as  Kentucky.  At  Louisville 
the  thermometer  fell  from  49°  to  — 1°,  and  on  New- 
Year's  day  at  9  A.M.  it  had  fallen  as  low  as  — 19>^*^  ;  a 
range  of  68 >^  °  ! 

Much  snow  also  fell  in  Maryland  and  along  the  upper 
Potomac,  with  a  temperature  much  below  zero,  greatly 
to  the  distress  of  our  army. 

With  the  exception  of  this  unprecedentedly  cold  storm, 
the  season  was  in  no  respect  abnormal.     But  my  general 


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notes  of  the  remainder  may  be  acceptable,  as  serving  to 
exhibit  the  ordinary  character  of  winter  in  this  locality. 

Jan,  5.  Snow  on  the  ground  this  morning  about  four 
inches,  and  being  underlaid  by  a  coat  of  ice,  the  sleighing 
is  good.     Wind  continues  westerly. 

Jan,  6.  Since  ist  inst.  the  river  has  been  frozen  over, 
and  is  crossed  daily  on  foot.  The  ferries  continue  their 
trips,  but  not  with  the  usual  regularity. 

Jan.  12.  Cold  continues.  Thermometer  since  ist  inst. 
has  ranged  between  10®  and  20°,  the  sun  shining  out 
frequently.  On  the  morning  of  the  9th  it  was  at  o. 
Snow  has  disappeared  from  the  streets  and  roads,  by  in- 
sensible evaporation,  there  having  been  no  thaw.  A 
little  is  still  left  in  the  woods.  The  river  is  being  crossed 
above  the  ferry  channels  by  sleighs,  and  an  enterprising 
individual  has  avoided  the  license  law  by  erecting  a 
shanty  on  the  ice,  at  the  boundary  line  of  the  two  na- 
tions, where  **  tangle-leg  **  and  "  complete  disability  " 
(the  fashionable  names  for  bad  liquors)  are  dispensed 
to  chilled  passengers.  Too  many  find  themselves,  liter- 
ally and  metaphorically — to  use  a  slang  phrase — "half- 

The  Mississippi  and  Ohio  are  reported  frozen  over,  and 
crossed  by  teams  as  far  down  as  Cairo. 

Jan,  18.  A  two  days*  thaw  leaves  the  ground  bare,  but 
has  not  disturbed  the  thick-ribbed  ice  in  the  river.  Since 
the  1st  there  h?is  been  more  or  less  sleighing. 

Jan,  25.  A  thaw  has  been  in  progress  for  three  days 
past.  This  morning  the  broad  expanse  of  the  river  is 
free  from  ice ;  even  the  floating  cakes  have  disappeared. 
The  sun  rises  clear  and  beautiful  upon  the  plying  ferry- 
boats, which  are  crossing  in  their  usual  tracks,  as  if  no 
ice-bound  surface  had  so  lately  barred  their  progress. 


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Jan,  27.  A  most  lovely  day,  with  clear,  warm  sun. 
Thermometer  at  midday  60°. 

Feb.  16.  Since  last  entry  the  weather  has  been  mild, 
thawing  during  the  day  and  scarcely  freezing  at  night. 
The  earth  is  bare,  and  frost  is  out  in  many  places.  Yes- 
terday was  bright  and  balmy  as  April.  To-day  Boreas 
descends  upon  us  with  bluster,  and  whirls  the  dust  in 

Feb,  17.  A  cold  change,  with  slight  flurry  of  snow. 
Thermometer  at  7  A.M.  — 3°. 

Feb,  18.  Thermometer  at  7  A.M. — o;  at  noon  10°. 
Roads  are  dry  and  good. 

Feb,  29.  Warmer.     Thermometer  at  7  A.M.  32°. 

Feb,  29.  The  mild  weather  continues.  Seldom  frost, 
even  at  night.  Thermometer  ranges  from  32°  to  40°; 
days  cloudy. 

With  the  exception  of  the  first  ten  days  of  January 
there  has  been  no  sleighing  in  this  neighborhood,  but  in 
the  interior  and  northerly  parts  of  the  peninsula  the  snow 
has  been  sufficient  for  sleighing  during  a  considerable 
part  of  January  and  February. 

The  minimum  temperature  of  February  was  — 3°. 
The  winds  during  January  and  February,  west  and  west 
by  south  and  by  north,  only  three  easterly,  and  for  a 
short  time. 

It  should  be  remembered  that  the.  Signal  Service  was 
not  established  at  Detroit  until  1871.  Such  phenomena 
as  I  have  noted  are  now  being  recor4ed  as  well  as  traced 
to  their  sources,  with  a  scientific  accuracy  and  minuteness 
that  will  not  be  looked  for  in  these  general  notes. 

Snowy  winters  are  of  great  advantage  to  our  farmers 
and  to  those  who  make  wood-craft  an  employment. 
**  Timber  '*  of  all  kinds  is  then  best  cut ;  the  frozen,  snow- 


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covered  earth  facilitating  the  removal  by  sleds,  from  situ- 
ations that  are  nearly  or  quite  impracticable  at  other 

Wood  has  become  of  a  value  for  fuel  undreamed  of  a 
few  years  ago,  and  is  in  so  great  demand  that  a  large  and 
profitable  business  is  done,  mostly  by  small  farmers,  who 
bring  it  to  the  city  market  from  many  miles,  and  from 
lands  where  a  short  period  ago  it  was  an  incumbrance,  to 
be  got  rid  of  by  the  usual  wasteful  process  of  wind-falling 
and  burning.  Fire-wood  and  timber  are  also  cut  and 
hauled  to  the  river  banks,  from  long  distances,  for  re- 
moval by  boats  in  the  summer  to  the  markets  of  Detroit, 
Chicago  and  other  cities. 

Within  a  few  years  an  immense  traffic  has  sprung  up  in 
staves,  hoops,  and  other  barrel  material,  in  the  heavily 
wooded  districts  along  the  river  St.  Clair,  and  elsewhere 
in  our  State  and  Canada.  It  employs  many  vessels,  some 
of  which  are  loaded  from  our  wharves  direct  to  Europe, 
through  the  Welland  Canal  and  the  St.  Lawrence.  The 
softer  woods  of  Michigan  forests  have  acquired  a  value 
for  many  purposes  which  they  did  not  possess  a  few 
years  ago.  A  winter  of  good  sledding  is  of  inestimable 
advantage,  in  the  transsport  of  these  forest  products  to 
the  place  of  transshipment  or  manufacture.  Though  in 
consequence  of  the  uncertain  character  of  our  winters, 
and  of  the  increased  distances  of  land  transport,  logs  and 
timber  are  now,  in  many  places,  drawn  out  by  tram- 
roads,  built  for  the  purpose. 

Among  these  occupations  I  need  make  only  a  bare  allu- 
sion to  the  great  pine  lumber  interest,  and  to  the  import- 
ance to  it  of  winters  of  snow  and  ice. 

A  trip  to  the  pine  woods  in  winter  will  well  repay  any 
one  who  not  only  loves  the  forests  at  all  seasons,  even  in 


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the  depth  and  gloom  of  the  cold  season,  but  who  would 
witness  an  exhilarating  spectacle  of  the  triumphs  of 
labor,  and  resolve  the  question.  Whence  come  those  im- 
mense piles  of  boards  and  lumber  that  are  daily  used  by 
builders,  in  the  infinite  variety  of  structures,  throughout 
our  land. 

Such  an  excursion  I  made  into  Sanilac  County,  during 
some  pleasant  days  in  February.  A  half-day's  journey 
from  Port  Huron  brought  us  into  the  heart  of  the  pine 
district.  Here  the  sleighing  was  superb,  and  the  weather 
all  that  could  be  wished  for  wood  travel. 

A  light  snow  had  fallen  the  night  before,  and  the  earth 
was  covered  to  the  depth  of  a  foot  with  a  mantle  of  un- 
sullied whiteness;  in  its  crystalline  purity  a  matchless 
cr'eation !  We  passed  through  much  pine,  hemlock  and 
beech  forest.  The  new  gift  of  the  night  rested  on  their 
limbs  and  foliage,  so  that  they  drooped  under  the  load. 
What  superb  pictures  they  formed !  the  crests  of  pure 
white  crowning,  while  they  did  not  wholly  conceal,  the 
green  foliage,  and  adding  a  pendent  grace  to  their  nat- 
ural beauty.  How  admirably  defined  each  bending 
bough,  by  contrast  of  its  gleaming  fringe  with  the  dark 
shade  beneath! 

"  Every  pine  and  fir  and  hemlock 
Wore  ermine  too  dear  for  an  earl, 
And  the  poorest  twig  on  the  elm  tree 
Was  ridged  inch  deep  with  pearl." 


And  if  each  individual  tree  was  a  beautiful  object,  what 
a  magnificent  spectacle  their  combination,  as  we  entered 
a  dense  forest  of  these  evergreens !  The  loftiest  pines 
reared  their  heads  one  hundred  and  fifty  feet  above  our 
own,  crowned  with  their   glittering   diadems.     Some  of 


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the  hemlocks  were  but  little  less  lofty ;  while  the  smaller 
trees  and  the  underbrush  formed  a  dense  thicket,  through 
which  the  eye  could  penetrate  but  a  short  distance. 
Much  of  the  undergrowth  consists  of  small  beech  trees, 
which  retain  their  leaves  through  the  winter,  changed  to 
delicate  shades  of  brown. 

All  beneath — the  soil  and  the  fallen  timber — reposed 
under  the  deep,  fleecy  coverlet.  For  three  days  no  wind 
shook  down  the  snow  wreaths  that  the  lightest  touch  of 
the  limbs  in  passing  sufficed  to  bring  in  showers  upon  our 

An  orchard  of  fruit  trees  in  full  bloom  may  bear  some 
comparison  with  these  snow-blossomed  evergreens,  but 
it  lacks  the  beauty  of  outline,  the  depth  of  foliage,  and 
the  majesty  of  proportion.  If  anything  could  add  to  the 
grandeur  of  a  pine  forest  it  is  this  crowning  grace  of 
winter.  The  sunny  South,  with  its  palms  and  its  tropic 
scenes,  has  its  own  delights,  but  it  cannot  offer  us  such  a 
gift  as  this. 

To  the  man  of  robust  health,  whose  blood  circulates 
rapidly  through  his  full  veins,  winter  is  a  welcome  season. 
Only  the  shivering  invalid  fails  to  appreciate  its  peculiar 

There  is  a  keen  sense  of  enjoyment  which  is  known 
only  in  winter.  The  sharp  frosty  air  imparts  to  the 
whole  frame  new  life  and  vigor,  and  these  react  upon  the 
soul.  There  is  a  wild  delight  in  breasting  the  storm,  as 
it  howls  along  our  pathway,  the  snow-flakes  falling  fast 
and  thick,  covering  every  familiar  object,  and  imparting 
a  new  aspect  to  the  face  of  nature.  How  lovely  this 
spotless  mantle  in  its  purity,  fit  to  be  the  gift  from 
Heaven  which  it  is !  It  is  joy  even  to  wade  through  its 
laborious  depths. 


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See  how  the  young  people  hail  its  coming !  Hear  their 
shouts  of  ecstasy,  as  they  plunge  into  the  drifts,  or  roll 
huge  balls  to  build  snow  fortresses  or  mock  statues,  or 
hasten  with  their  sleds  to  the  hill-side  !  How  their  cheeks 
glow  with  the  healthful  excitement  and  the  more  impul- 
sive life  in  the  blood  ! 

Now  hurry  out  the  sleighs!  The  jingling  bells — 
"  merry  bells," — the  smooth,  rapid  motion,  the  absence 
of  rumbling  wheels  and  noise  and  jolts,  and  the  fresh, 
bracing  atmosphere,  combine  to  create  an  enjoyment,  a 
rapture  which  is  felt  only  where  King  Winter  reigns  ac- 
knowledged. Farewell  to  mud,  to  dust  and  filth! 
Welcome  the  new  creation,  the  soft  robe,  covering  all 
earth's  impurities;  substituting  for  the  faded  garniture  of 
summer  an  all-investing  robe  of  celestial  purity. 

Well  may  the  farmer  rejoice,  who  looks  only  with  prac- 
tical eye  upon  the  seasons  as  they  change ;  for  this  snow- 
cover  is  the  best  manure  for  his  fields,  costing  neither 
money  nor  cartage,  and  it  is  a  shield  of  protection  to  all 
tender-rooted  crops  against  the  heaving  frosts. 

The  trees,  lately  stripped  of  their  dresses,  have  put  on 
one  which  helps  to  relieve  their  barrenness.  But  are  the 
naked  trees  shorn  of  their  beauty,  because  divested  of 
their  summer  clothing?  On  the  contrary,  at  no  time  is 
their  beauty  of  form  so  apparent.  Compare  the  nude 
Apollo  with  the  dressed  statue  of  a  modern  hero  !  Every 
leafless  tree  has  a  character  of  its  own,  which  is  brought 
to  view  more  distinctly  when  each  limb  and  minute  twig 
are  printed  upon  the  sky.  It  is  a  winter  study  full  of  in- 
struction, and  worthy  an  artist's  eye,  to  note  how  differ- 
ent and  how  distinguishable  are  the  various  species,  in 
those  distinctive  features  of  size,  habit  of  growth,  and  ar- 
rangement of  branches^  which  are  more  or  less  concealed 


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by  the  summer  drapery.  There  is  a  charm  even  in  the 
disclosures  which  the  fall  of  the  leaf  has  made,  of  the 
deserted  birds*  nests,  some  pensile  from  the  slender  twig, 
some  securely  fixed  in  a  crotch  of  the  limbs.  No  land- 
scape painter  can  be  perfect  in  his  art  who  has  not 
studied — as  how  few  do ! — the  trees  in  their  winter  anat- 
omy, noted  their  blue  shadows  upon  the  snow,  and  the 
many  other  effects  appreciated  by  the  true  student  of 
nature,  in  this  her  sternest  but  most  entrancing  aspect. 

Now  stir  the  fire,  and  draw  the  shutters  close,  and 
wheel  the  sofa  round.  Let  the  wind  whistle  by  or 
breathe  its  loud  sough ;  let  it  bring  King  Frost  and  all  the 
furies  in  its  train.  At  this  ample  fireside  we  are  safe 
from  its  chill  blasts.  Here  all  is  warmth  and  light,  and 
thoughtful  life,  in  cheerful  contrast  to  the  scenes  of  cold, 
darkness  and  desolation  without. 

Gather  around  the  parlor  table,  strewn  with  books,  and 
littered  with  articles  that  instruct  or  amuse  the  varied 
members  of  the  family.  The  long,  long,  delightful,  so- 
cial evening  is  before  us ;  such  an  evening  as  only  the 
season  of  short  days  and  long  nights  can  bring ;  such  as 
is  known  only  where  Boreas  reigns  supreme.  Who  cares 
how  fiercely  the  storm  rages  !  Who  cares  what  heaps  of 
snow  are  piled  up  by  the  sweeping  blasts !  His  fiercest 
howls  only  add  a  new  sense  of  security  and  enjoyment  to 
the  winter  fireside. 

Little  tired  feet,  that  have  been  active  all  the  after- 
noon, playing  in  the  snow  bank,  or  on  the  slippery  ice, 
now  rest  in  the  genial  warmth  of  the  hearth,  and  after  a 
brief  hour  of  reading,  or  song,  or  game,  drag  themselves 
off  to  the  welcome  bed,  leaving  the  older  heads  to  their 
conversation,  their  papers  or  their  books.  Nowhere  is 
the  family  tie  so  strong  as  by  the  winter  fireside.     No- 


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where  are  the  kindly  feelings  so  aroused,  not  only  for 
the  happy  group  around,  but  for  those  destitute  ones, 
who  art  this  inclement  period  experience  only  its  dis- 
comforts and  its  bitterness. 

Be  active,  then,  to  relieve  the  distresses  of  the  poor, 
ye  who  have  such  store  of  this  world's  comforts,  as  to 
convert  its  most  drear  and  perishing  season  into  one  of 
amplest  delight.  Let  the  poor  brutes,  too,  that  are 
dependent  on  thee,  receive  a  double  share  of  care  and 
solicitude,  and  let  thy  thanksgiving  for  bounties  be- 
stowed, and  thy  Christmas  joy  for  Heaven's  mercies  to 
thee  and  thine,  be  expressed  by  renewed  efforts  to  dis- 
pense the  blessings  thou  hast  so  bountifully  received. 


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"  So  forth  issewM  the  seasons  of  the  yeare : 
First,  lusty  Spring,  all  dight  in  leaves  of  flowres, 
That  freshly  budded  and  new  bloomes  did  beare, 
In  which  a  thousand  birds  had  built  their  bowres, 
That  severally  sung  to  call  forth  paramours ; 
And  in  his  hand  a  iaelin  he  did  beare, 
And  on  his  head  (as  fit  for  warlike  stoures) 
A  gilt  engraven  morion  he  did  weare ; 
That  as  some  did  him  love,  so  others  did  him  feare." 



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IN    this    uncertain    climate    the    hopes  of    the  eager 
watcher  for  spring  are  doomed  to  many  and  many  a 

March  is  not  continually  given  to  bluster.  Sometimes 
a  succession  of  mild,  sunny  days,  clinging  to  the  very 
skirts  of  winter,  will  swell  the  earliest  buds  almost  to 
bursting,  and  awaken  the  belief  that  the  vernal  season 
of  the  poets  has  really  come.  We  join  in  his  rapturous 

**  Soon  o'er  our  heads  blithe  April  airs  shall  sing, 
A  thousand  wild  flowers  round  them  shall  unfold, 
The  green  buds  glisten  in  the  dews  of  Spring, 
And  all  be  vernal  rapture  as  of  old." 

Then  winter  again  takes  up  the  sceptre,  which  he  had 
but  laid  aside  for  an  idle  nap,  and  rules  with  increased 
severity,  as  if  to  atone  for  the  neglect,  and  cheat  the  poet 
of  his  prophecy.  He  dallies  with  March,  and  coquets 
with  April,  allowing  to  each  intervals  of  favor,  but  un- 
willing to  yield  to  the  bland  usurper  his  ill  ruled  and 
already  broken  kingdom.  At  last  the  milder  power  pre- 
vails; the  enfeebled  frost-monarch  contenting  himself 
with  only  occasional  raids  into  his  abandoned  ter- 

The   struggle  during  March  is  often  mixed  and  bois- 



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terous  enough.  Now  it  blows  a  tempest,  now  breathes  a 
gentle  calm  ;  now  freezes  at  zero,  now  thaws  rapidly  at 
summer  heat.  In  the  morning,  snow;  at  night,  a  thunder- 
storm. Now  wet,  now  dry ;  now  sunshine,  now  cloud. 
Days  that  call  a  seraph  down,  but  speed  him  back  on 
the  morrow  to  his  more  congenial  heaven.  Suppliant 
month,  that  invites  the  birds,  and  greets  their,  opening 
music  with  piping  winds  and  crackling  frosts  ;  that  with 
soft  breath  dissolves  the  snows  into  rippling  streams, 
but  floods  the  land  with  water,  embargoes  it  with  mud, 
stiffens  it  with  ice.  Month  full  of  promise,  full  of 
horror !  All  welcome  thy  coming,  all  rejoice  at  thy 

Yet  how  cheering  to  soul  and  body  the  first  spring-like 
days, — and  we  always  have  some  such  in  March,  at 
farthest  in  April, — when  the  sun  shines  blandly  ;  blus- 
tering Boreas  has  retired,  exhausted  by  his  late  potent 
efforts ;  the  soil  reeks'  with  the  dissolving  snows ;  the 
ditches  are  full  of  clear,  running  water,  and  little  stream- 
lets ramify  over  the  land ;  fish  run  up  from  the  river  into 
the  fields  by  these  new  channels;  the  birds,  returning 
to  their  old  haunts,  by  their  first  joyous  notes  bring  back 
the  memory  of  past  sunny  days;  flocks  of  water-fowl 
wend  their  way  up  the  river ;  pigeons  fly  in  large  num- 
bers over  our  heads.  If  an  occasional  snow-bank  hedges 
the  fields,  it  is  fast  dissolving  in  the  warm  sun.  In  the 
river,  masses  of  ice,  which  so  lately  formed  a  solid  bridge, 
are  broken  into  fragments,  that  rapidly  disappear,  soften- 
ing, whitening,  crumbling,  and  sinking  or  floating  out  of 

Attracted  by  the  genial  warmth  everybody  is  out  of 
doors ;  the  fires  are  allowed  to  expire  on  the  neglected 
hearth,  and  open  doors  permit  the  wind  once  more  to 


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circulate  through  the  house.  We  tread  again  the  long 
unused  walks  in  the  garden  and  shrubberies,  in  field  and 
lawn,  examine  our  cherished  plants,  to  see  whether  the 
cold  hand  of  winter  has  dealt  kindly  with  them  ;  while 
visions  of  bursting  buds,  of  early  flowers,  and  of  the  uni- 
versal life  and  bounty  of  nature,  come  over  our  spirits, 
comforting  as  the  visits  of  white-winged  angels,  and  we 
live  whole  seasons  in  the  swift  memories  and  hopes  of  a 
single  hour. 

A  succession  of  such  sunny  days  in  March,  accom- 
panied by  powerful  rains,  and  coming  before  the  snows 
have  lost  much  of  their  winter  depth,  is  certain  to  create 
disastrous  floods.     I  quote  from  my  journal : 

March.  20,  1865.  We  have  accounts  of  floods  all  over 
the  Northern  and  Middle  States.  A  larger  quantity  than 
usual  of  snow  had  been  left  by  the  retreating  winter,  and 
snow-storms  were  succeeded  by  heavy  rains.  The  conse- 
quences have  been  tremendous.  Streams  have  risen  sud- 
denly to  a  height  not  known  for  many  years,  covering 
miles  of  country,  deluging  cities  as  well  as. fields,  carry- 
ing off  houses,  sheep,  cattle  and  fences,  sweeping  away 
bridges,  even  of  stone  and  iron,  tearing  away  the  banks 
of  canals  for  miles,  interrupting  railway  trains,  the. tele- 
graph, and  the  roads,  so  that  whole  days  have  passed 
without  intelligence  between  one  part  of  the  country 
and  another  that  had  been  in  daily,  if  not  hourly  com- 
munication. Millions  of  dollars  in  property  are  thus  lost 
in  a  day. 

Happily  our  neighborhood  is  but  little  subject  to  dis- 
asters from  this  cause,  as  it  is  seldom  visited  by  a  depth 
of  snow  sufficient  to  cause  a  deluge  on  this  sudden 
'*  breaking  up  '*  of  winter,  and  has  no  deep  valleys  to  col- 
lect into  vast  bodies  the  accumulated  waters. 


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Sometimes,  nevertheless,  the  spring  rains  are  so  violent 
and  copious  as  to  cause  destructive  floods  in  this  neigh- 
borhood. Such  was  the  case  in  April,  1836,  which  was 
noted  for  a  tremendous  freshet,  which  destroyed  roads 
and  bridges,  doing  a  large  amount  of  damage,  though  lit- 
tle in  comparison  with  the  devastations  occasioned  by 
the  flood  of  1865,  through  New  York  and  Pennsylvania. 

Ordinarily,  in  this  locality,  the  advance  of  spring  is 
more  slow  and  prolonged  than  it  is  a  hundred  miles  to 
the  west  and  north,  where  the  transition  from  winter  to 
summer  takes  place  very  frequently  with  scarcely  an  inter- 
val that  is  worthy  the  name  of  spring.  Here  the  season 
is  better  characterized,  though  its  natural  limits  are  much 
shorter  than  in  Europe.  But  many  instances  of  such 
rapid  transition  are  on  my  records. 

The  spring  of  1841  followed  a  winter  of  little  severity- 
Lake  navigation  opened  unusually  early — in  April.  March 
was  rather  mild,  but  with  a  mean  temperature  3  °  below 
the  normal,  of  34°.  The  season  proved  cold  and  back- 
ward, retarded  possibly  by  the  presence  pf  large  bodies 
of  ice  floating  off  the  Newfoundland  coast,  and  even  as 
far  south  as  latitude  41°.  April  and  May  had  each  a 
mean  temperature  4°  or  5°  below  the  normal  (of 
46°  and  58°  respectively). 

There  was  much  snow  over  the  country  throughout 
April,  and  ice  formed  at  Washington  on  3d  May.  Fruit 
trees  were  not  in  blossom  until  the  20th  of  that  month,' 
nor  had  the  forests  put  forth  scarcely  a  green  leaf.  On 
the  22d  May,  summer  burst  upon  us  in  full  glory.  Fruit 
trees  were  in  bloom,  the  forests  quite  green,  and  an 
almost  summer  foliage  clothed  many  of  the  trees  and 
shrubbery  in  the  city  yards.     For  several  days  successively 


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the  thermometer  rose  to  80°  and  above,  during  the  after- 
noons.   The  summer  following  proved  warm  and  dry. 

The  spring  of  1844  afforded  an  instance  of  a  very 
early  as  well  as  sudden  advance  of  vegetation.  The  preced- 
ing winter  was  mild,  without  snow  and  with  very  little  ice. 
March  was  also  mild,  and  April  had  a  mean  temperature 
8°  above  the  normal.  On  the  nth  of  that  month  hardly 
a  green  leaf  had  appeared.  Two  days  later  gardens  were 
quite  green  and  many  fruit  trees  in  blossom.  Frosts  fol- 
lowed in  May,  and  both  spring  and  summer  were  very 

The  opening  of  1845  exhibited  in  a  still  stronger  de- 
gree the  contrasts  which  are  so  common  between  our 
spring  seasons,  and  shows  how  extreme  often  is  the  di- 
versity. The  spring  followed  a  winter  of  uncommon 
openness,  which  is  described  in  my  chapter  on  Winter. 
On  3d  March  steamers  had  commenced  regular  trips  to 
ports  on  Lake  Erie.  Frost  had  left  the  ground  for  fully 
a  week,  and  roads  were  quite  dry.  On  the  i  ith,  forest  trees 
showed  blossom,  and  vegetation  began  to  advance.  In 
a  few  days  more  farming  and  gardening  operations  were 
in  vigorous  progress.  A  week  only  of  freezing  weather 
occurred  in  March,  although  the  mean  temperature  was 
below  the  normal.  No  untimely  frosts  subsequently 
marred  the  prospects  of  the  year,  which  proved  warm 
and  dry. 

The  spring  of  1855  followed  a  cold  and  snowy  winter, 
protracted  into  April;  On  the  20th  of  that  month  the 
mercury  leaped  to  80°,  giving  a  sudden  start  to  vegeta- 
tion, and  bringing  the  elms  and  maples  into  blow.  No 
such  high  temperature  was  experienced  in  May  or  June, 
and  the  summer  was  cold  and  wet. 

The   spring  of    1857  was   of  a  character  still    more 


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5i6  sPRi/m. 

marked.  An  extremely  cold  and  stormy  winter,  pro- 
longed far  beyond  the  ordinary  period,  chilled  the  lap  of 
May.  Until  the  last  week  of  that  month  no  influence  of 
the  spring  was  apparent.  The  last  two  days  of  May 
and  first  day  of  June  were  very  warm,  my  Fahrenheit  in- 
dicating 80°  and  85®.  Vegetation  started  with  wonder- 
ful vigor,  so  that  in  three  days,  from  the  nakedness  of 
winter  every  shrub  and  tree  burst  into  leaf  and  blossom. 
A  cool  and  moist  summer  succeeded. 

Sudden  changes  in  the  opposite  extreme  are  not  infre- 
quent in  spring.  That  of  1862  succeeded  a  very  mild 
and  equable  winter,  whose  temperature  had  at  no  time 
fallen  below  zero.  During  the  latter  half  of  April,  the 
heat  had  been  almost  oppressive.  On  the  i8th  May, 
with  a  strong  wind  from  the  N.  W.,  the  temperature  fell 
in  two  hours  from  almost  summer  heat  to  below  40°. 
Fruit  trees  had  been  in  bloom  for  more  than  a  week. 
This  cold  snap  was  followed  by  frosts  which  did  much 
damage.  The  remainder  of  the  year  was  pleasant  and 

An  equally  violent  change  occurred  in  the  spring  of 
1874,  though  following  a  winter  which  had  been  rather 
mild,  with  abundant  snow.  March  came  in  decidedly 
lamb-like.  Bluebirds,  robins  and  song  sparrows  were 
around  quite  numerously  as  early  as  the  2d,  and  the 
month  continued  dry  and  of  normal  femperature  to  its 
close.  The  whole  of  April  was  dry,  cold  and  blustering, 
with  a  mean  temperature  nine  degrees  below  normal. 
Dry  and  cool  weather  accompanied  sharp  easterly  winds 
until  May  7.  Then  a  sudden  change  occurred.  A 
prevailing  cold,  which  made  overcoats  desirable  out  of 
doors,  and  fires  within,  resolved  itself  into  summer  heat. 
On  the  8th  the  mercury  rose  from  a  maximum  of  fifty- 


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eight  degrees  and  a  minimum  below  freezing,  of  the 
previous  day,  to  eighty  degrees,  which  it  maintained 
from  noon  till  5  P.M.  On  the  9th  it  rose  to  eighty-five 
degrees.  On  the  loth,  to  eighty-nine  degrees.  We 
experienced  a  heated  term  of  six  days*  duration.  Until 
the  8th  of  May  no  green  thing  was  visible,  except  grass. 
During  the  day  following  many  shrubs  came  into  leaf. 
By  the  loth,  a  general  tint  of  green  pervaded  garden  and 
forest.  On  the  12th  I  gathered  a  brilliant  bouquet  from 
my  peach,  apple,  pear,  cherry  and  plum  trees.  On  the 
15th  came  a  welcome  rain,  with  cooler  temperature,  fol- 
lowed by  light  frosts.  The  mean  of  the  month  was 
fifty-nine  degrees,  thirteen  degrees  above  the  normal! 
The  succeeding  summer  was  not  an  unusual  one,  either 
as  to  temperature  or  rainfall. 

Other  vicissitudes  of  spring-time  deserve  mention. 
Snow-storms  late  in  April  are  not  infrequent. 

In  1854  a  severe  snow-storm  set  in  on  Good  Friday, 
April  14th,  lasting  two  days,  the  snow  not  disappearing 
until  after  Easter.  This  storm  visited  the  Atlantic  coast 
as  far  south  as  Virginia. 

In  1856  snow  also  fell  in  April.  The  month  of  March 
was  exceedingly  cold,  and  the  river  froze  so  as  to  be 
crossed  on  the  ice  with  teams  on  the  15th.  A  hard 
frost  occurred  on  the  30th  of  May. 

The  cold  and  late  spring  of  1857  has  been  already 
alluded  to.  On  the  20th  of  April  a  severe  storm  passed 
over  the  country,  leaving  snow  three  feet  deep  through 
portions  of  Western  New  York.  The  suspension  bridge 
at  Rochester  was  broken  down  by  the  weight. 

Reports  of  travellers,  and  particularly  English  rural 
writers,  have  accustomed  us  to  compare  unfavorably  the 
character  of  our  spring  with  that  of  Europe.     Its  capri- 


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ciousness  is,  however,  not  wholly  unknown  on  the  other 
side  of  the  ocean,  though  it  is  there  a  less  noted  phe- 
nomenon. A  writer  in  the  Spectator  repudiates  the  idea 
that  the  loveliness  of  the  English  spring  is  due  to  its 
gradual  advance  and  lingering  stay ;  he  even  lauds  the 
season  of  1875  for  its  very  opposite  character.  He  says: 
"  It  is  the  custom  to  talk  of  the  beauty  of  an  English 
May,  but  for  seven  years  back,  at  least,  May  has  been  a 
work  of  shedding  and  of  blight, — a  shrinking  of  the 
spirit  and  wilting  of  the  trees.  In  almost  all  English 
springs  a  large  number  of  the  leaves  are  crinkled  by  the 
frosts  which  succeed  the  first  burst  into  leaf,  and  happy 
is  the  neighborhood  in  which  a  good  proportion  of  the 
leaves  are  not  blackened  as  well  as  shrunken,  in  conse- 
quence of  the  indomitable  way  in  which  winter  keeps 
returning  and  returning  upon  us  after  he  has  made 
believe  to  go.** 

This  is  a  species  of  blight  unknown  to  us,  even  in  our 
coldest  or  most  capricious  springs. 

The  spring  of  1875  must  have  been  imported  from 
America.  The  Spectator  says  of  it :  **  In  England,  almost 
for  the  first  time  within  what  is  now  a  very  considerable 
experience,  the  spring,  long  delayed,  has  come  abruptly, 
with  all  the  softness  of  an  early  summer,  and  yet  with 
all  the  freshness  of  true  spring.  Not  a  single  tree  shows 
those  powerful  signs  of  pinched  or  blackened  leaves  due 
to  the  frosts  which  follow  on  soft  weather.  It  is  Hke  the 
weather  which  the  returning  trade  wind  brings  to  the 
tropics  when  the  rainy  season  is  over,  only  without  the 
midday  glare,  perfect  in  its  freshness  and  softness." 

"  The  only  drawback  ** — the  writer  continues — "  and 
it  is  so  rare  a  phenomenon  in  England  that  it  is  hardly 
a  drawback,  is  that  there  has  been  hardly  any  graduation 


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visible  in  the  leaf  between  the  bud  and  the  full  bright 
green  of  early  summer.  A  day's  rainfall,  and  then  the 
beeches  and  oaks  and  elms  were  all,  as  by  one  consent, 
in  full  dress  at  once/* 

This  well  describes  our  frequent  experience,  and 
surely  it  is  a  consolation,  accompanying  what  we  have 
considered  a  drawback,  to  know  that  it  has  its  value  and 
a  peculiar  beauty  in  foreign  eyes. 

One  of  the  earliest  indications  of  returning  spring-time 
is  the  appearance  of  numerous  flocks  of  wild  ducks, 
geese  and  swans,  proceeding  to  new  quarters  up  the 
chain  of  rivers  and  lakes.  This  takes  place  in  February 
and  March,  not  often  in  the  winter  month,  unless  there 
is  promise  of  a  spring  of  unusual  earliness.  Sometimes 
the  flight  is  deferred  until  as  late  as  April,  a  late  spring 
being  always  the  accompaniment. 

In  the  very  cold  and  backward  season  of  1843,  I 
observed  them  going  northward  in  the  latter  week  of 
March,  and  large  flocks  made  their  appearance,  returning 
upon  their  tracks,  on  the  third  of  the  following  month. 

Robins  and  bluebirds,  the  earliest  harbingers  of 
spring  among  the  songsters,  always  return  to  us  in 
March,  as  early  as  the  first  week,  if  the  season  be  mild 
and  early,  but  they  often  delay  their  coming  until  the 
middle  or  end  of  the  month,  if  the  spring  prove  late  and 
stormy.  The  yellow  birds  and  the  rest  of  the  song  tribe 
soon  follow,  until  all  the  groves  are  vocal. 

How  few  know  fully  what  a  day  in  spring  is  who  have 
not  been  adventurous  enough  to  rise  with  the  dawn,  and 
commence  the  day  when  the  birds  begin  theirs.  Let  me 
describe  a  morning  towards  the  end  of  May,  when — I  do 
solemnly  aver — I  tried  the  experiment. 


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The  hour  was  three  o'clock.  Night  yet  held  sway 
over  the  sleeping  earth,  and  all  was  silent,  with  the  hush 
that  precedes  the  awakening.  The  moist  air,  loaded 
with  the  odor  of  innumerable  blossoms,  breathed  around 
me  a  fragrance  and  freshness  peculiar  to  the  season  and 
the  hour.  Soon  the  solitary  note  of  a  chanticleer — "  the 
cock  that  is  the  trumpet  to  the  morn  *' — broke  the 
silence ;  another  and  another  answered,  until  the  welkin 
rang  with  their  strains  of  rivalry.  Dawn  was  but  just  vis- 
ible, yet  every  cock  for  miles  around  **  with  his  lofty  and 
shrill-sounding  throat,**  was  chanting  defiance  to  the  rest 
of  his  sex,  and  arousing  his  feathered  dames  to  the 
duties  of  the  day.  A  flush  of  light  brightens  the  eastern 
sky.  It  is  the  halo  which  precedes  the  chariot  of 
Phoebus,  attended  by  Aurora  and  the  dancing  hours. 

Notice  the  clear  distinction  drawn  in  the  sacred  writ- 
ings between  those  three  periods  of  early  day,  **  At 
dawn,  at  cock-crowing,  and  in  the  momrng.*'  A  faint 
blush  of  light  always  precedes  the  awakening  of  the 
"bird  of  dawning,**  as  his  full  chorus  does  the  period 
when  night  fairly  retreats  before  the  "  god  of  day.** 

To  many  it  would  be  a  new  sensation  to  be  up  at 
dawn,  or 

**  At  the  cock  crow, 
When  the  night  is  dying  slowly 

In  the  sky, 
And  the  sea  looks  calm  and  holy, 
Waiting  for  the  dawn 
Of  the  golden  sun 

Which  draweth  nigh. 
When  the  mists  are  on  the  valley,  shading 

The  river  chill, 
And  the  morning  star  is  fading,  fading. 

Over  the  hill." 

And  now,  while  the  mists  are  yet  in  the  valley  and  on 

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the  river,  awakes  the  nuptial  chorus  of  the  birds.  And 
what  a  concert  it  is!  As  if  each  little  musician  had 
aroused  to  a  fresh  sense  of  his  happiness,  and  was  striv- 
ing to  outdo  all  others  in  the  expression  of  it.  The 
whole  air  is  vocal.  The  strains  mingle  in  a  confused 
medley,  yet  in  perfect  concord.  Not  one  throat  that 
ever  poured  a  note  is  silent  now.  One  after  another 
takes  up  the  strain,  ever  higher  and  higher,  nearer  and 
nearer,  until  the  very  heaven  resounds,  and  "  Earth  rolls 
the  raipturous  hosanna  round.**  If  you  would  hear  this 
sweet  concert  delay  not  until  the  sun  is  up,  and  not 
until  the  summer.  It  is  the  birds*  epithalamium.  Its 
set  time  is  the  dawn  in  spring. 

Morning  has  now  fairly  broke,  and  human  bipeds 
begin  to  arouse  from  their  beds  of  slumber,  awakened  by 
the  light.  How  pure  and  fresh  the  atmosphere  is  still ; 
but  the  birds  have  finished  their  grand  concert  of  thanks- 
giving, and  are  busy  finding  breakfast  for  themselves  or 
for  their  little  ones.  To  how  many  of  us  men  doea  the 
day  bring  only  care  and  wearying  labor,  without  requital, 
and  without  the  soothing  influences  of  morning.  The 
sun  is  in  the  heavens  ;  the  discordant  sounds  of  busy  life 
float  upon  the  air  ;  all  is  tumult  upon  the  earth.  Man's 
day  has  begun. 

After  the  long  deadness  of  winter,  the  first  flowers 
which  greet  us  in  our  country  rambles  have  a  peculiar 

The  most  delicate  among  these,  and  one  of  the  earliest, 
is  the  little  spring  beauty  {Claytonia  Virgincid)^  very  pure 
and  lily-like.  It  grows  low,  with  the  violets,  and  loves 
to  hide  in  the  shadows  and  the  fresh  grass.  Of  the 
violets  we  have  eight  or  ten  species,  of  all  shades,  from 


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522  SPRING. 

blue  to  yellow  and  white.  They  have  an  associate  in 
the  anemone  or  wind  flower,  so  called  from  its  opening 
in  the  winds  of  spring.  Our  species  (nemerosd)  is  a  very 
modest  flower,  by  no  means  so  gorgeous  as  the  several 
European  kinds. 

Early  in  May  the  "openings,'*  or  lightly  timbered 
lands — which  have  so  great  extent  on  our  peninsula, 
though  but  little  in  our  immediate  vicinity — are  beauti- 
fully adorned. 

Among  the  most  conspicuous  of  the  May  gifts  of 
Flora,  besides  those  already  named,  is  the  bold  Wake- 
robin,  both  white  and  pink ;  the  Litchnidia,  purple  and 
fragrant ;  Bellwort,  yellow  with  spiral  petals :  Crane's-bill, 
a  crowfoot  geranium,  resembling  a  dwarf  rose  ;  the  yellow 
Buttercup,  of  world-wide  fame;  the  Lupine,  purplish- 
blue  ;  Lousewort,  yellow  and  red ;  Vetch,  a  small  purple- 
white  blossom  ;  the  Lady's-slipper,  or  Cypripedium,  yel- 
low and  mottled,  worthy  to  fit  the  foot  of  Venus ; 
Painted-cup,  brilliant  scarlet,  in  its  colored  bracts  ; 
Strawberry  and  Whortleberry,  the  latter  quite  elegant 
with  its  bell-shaped  pink-and-white  flower  clusters. 

These  and  many  others  are  ever  present  and  numerous. 
They  love  to  associate  in  family  groups,  each  kind  exclud- 
ing from  its  favorite  locality  all  others,  except  a  few  soli- 
tary foreigners,  who  seem  to  be  admitted  by  favor  within 
the  home  circle.  They  occupy  as  partiality  dictates,  one 
tribe  the  undulating  knolls,  another  the  moist  hollows. 
Some  court  the  shade,  others  the  fervid  sun  in  the  more 
open  spaces,  and  all  seem  to  set  at  defiance  the  withering 
fires  that  annually  sweep  these  glades. 

As  a  means  of  useful  comparison,  I  add  the  periods  of 
bloom  of  some  spring  flowers  of  this  locality,  as  reported 


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to  me  by  a  botanical  friend.*  Purple  Spring  Cress  {Car- 
damine  purpurea)  is  in  flower  by  April  12,  frequently ; 
Spring  Beauty  by  April  14 ;  Marsh  Marigold  {Caltha 
Pa/ustris),hy  April  16;  Anemone,  Ranunculus  and  Blood- 
root  {Sanguinaria  Canadensis)^  by  April  18;  Liverwort 
(Hepatica  acretiloba),  as  early  often  as  the  loth  of  March. 

Among  plants  coming  into  flower  from  the  middle  to 
the  latter  part  of  April  are  Blue  Colosh  {Caulophyllum 
thalictroides) ;  several  of  the  Violets  ( Viola  blanda,  cucul- 
latay  sagitata,  Mulenbergii and pubescens\  Shepherd's  purse 
{Capsella  bursa-pastoris)\  Ginseng  {Ar alia  trif olid)  \  the 
purple  and  white  Trillium;  Yellow  Adder's  -  tongue 
{Erythronium  Americanum)  \  Dutchman's  breeches  {Di- 
centra  cucularia)  and  the  Sedge  {Carex  Pennsylvania), 

So  brilliant  is  the  autumnal  foliage  in  this  climate,  as 
quite  to  eclipse  our  notice  of  the  leaf  tints  of  spring. 
But  these,  if  less  brilliant,  are  scarcely  less  varied.  Even 
the  grass  has  in  its  young  green  blade  a  velvety  softness 
which  does  not  belong  to  summer.  The  stems  of  the 
willows,  which  are  among  the  earliest  of  our  shrubs  to 
feel  the  enlivening  influence  of  the  vernal  breath,  assume 
a  brighter  yellow,  red  and  green,  according  to  their  spe- 
cies, to  which  a  liveliness  is  added  by  the  young  leaves 
that  venture  forth  so  early.  The  maples  show  blossoms 
of  Indian  red.  The  first  leaves  of  apple-orchards  have  a 
somewhat  brownish  tinge  of  darker  green  than  after- 

These  lively  tints  of  the  fresh,  young  leaves  contrast 
finely  with  the  evergreens  that  deepen  the  green  of  their 
foliage  with  the  advent  of  spring. 

How  refreshingly  green  is  the  grass,  the  first  of  the  veg- 

*  Henry  Gillman. 


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524  SPRING. 

etable  world  to  be  stimulated  into  vigor  by  dissolving 
snows  and  April  showers.  How  delicious  to  the  sight  is 
this  soft  carpet  of  green,  while  the  trees  are  awaiting  the 
warmer  airs  of  June  to  put  on  "  smiling  nature's  universal 
robe."  What  luxuriant  beauty  of  the  unsodded  tropics 
can  equal  it ! 

A  few  general  facts,  drawn  from  my  note-books,  will 
serve  further  to  illustrate  the  progress  of  our  spring 

The  northward  flight  of  ducks,  geese  and  swans  takes 
place  in  March,  from  the  first  to  the  end.  Robins  and 
bluebirds  make  their  first  appearance  from  March  i  to 
20 ;  the  thrush,  tanager,  oriole  and  song-birds  generally, 
seldom  before  April,  and  frequently  not  until  May. 

The  first  signs  of  vegetation  among  our  common  trees 
is  seen  in  the  blossoming  of  elms  and  maples,  from  March 
ID  to  April  20,  the  average  being  April  10.  The  forests 
are  green  with  the  young  leaf  seldom  before  the  latter 
part  of  April,  the  range  being  from  April  I  to  May  15, 
and  they  are  seldom  in/«//ieaf  before  June. 

The  earliest  fruit  trees,  as  peach,  cherry  and  plum, 
come  into  bloom  from  middle  of  April  to  middle  of  May, 
— a  whole  month's  range,  the  average  period  being  May  8. 
Apple  and  pear  are  a  week  later.  Our  large  French 
'pear  trees  are  quite  regular  in  their  period,  and  are 
seldom  full-crowned  with  their  snowy  blossoms  earlier  or 
later  than  May  20. 

The  latest  spring  frosts  may  occur  from  April  to  June. 

I  shall  close  these  general  observations  upon  our 
springs  by  quoting  from  my  journals  the  weather  notes 
of  a  single  season,  taken  rather  at  random.     Those  of  1877 


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tolerably  well  represent  the  general  average,  the  mean 
temperature  of  the  three  months  being  only  a  degree 
below  the  normal ;  that  of  March  nearly  5°  below,  and  of 
April  2^  above. 

The  first  two  winter  months  which  preceded  were 
cold  and  snowy.  But  February  (as  we  have  seen  in  our 
notices  of  winters)  was  unusually  mild  and  clear. 

March  9.  After  several  days  of  changeable  and  gusty 
weather,  with  winds  from  all  quarters  of  the  heavens,  a 
storm  set  in  yesterday,  with  fine  snow  and  sleet,  which 
has  ended  in  a  fall  of  6  inches.  Heavier  snows  are  re- 
ported from  the  north  and  interior. 

This  evening  (9th)  an  aurora  was  observed,  lasting 
from  7.30  to  1 1.30  P.M.  It  consisted  of  a  single  stationary 
arch,  without  darting  luminous  beams. 

20th.  Since  the  9th  the  ground  has  been  covered  with 
snow,  and  the  sleighing  good,  though  but  little  hard  frost. 
This  morning  the  trees  were  all  mantled  in  thick  hoar- 
frost, and  presented  a  glorious  appearance  in  the  clear 

The  snow  soon  began  to  thaw  rapidly,  and  continued 
to  soften  through  the  day,  although  the  heavens  were 
covered  with  clouds  after  10  A.M.  About  6  P.M.  the 
clouds  deepened,  a  colder  wind  coming  from  the  N.E., 
and  snow  began  to  fall.  At  the  same  time  thunder 
was  heard,  and  soon  lightning  began  to  play,  very  sharp 
thunder  following  at  very  short  intervals.  At  every  re- 
currence of  the  electric  flash,  the  bell  in  the  City  Hall 
tower  rang  a  loud,  clear  tone.  Hail,  snow  and  sleet  fell 
in  succession,  and  at  9  P.M.  three  inches  of  snow  covered 
the  ground. 

The  cause  of  this  unusual  phenomenon  is  thus  ex- 
plained by  the  Signal  Service  observer  at  Detroit  (Van 


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526  SPUING. 

Heusen) :  "  For  some  ten  days  preceding  the  storm  there 
had  been  a  succession  of  mild  polar  waves,  moving  down 
from  the  N.W.,  and  during  the  same  period  a  warm  cur- 
rent, highly  charged  with  atmospheric  electricity^  mov- 
ing from  the  S.W.  These  two  currents,  one  of  cold, 
dense,  dry  air,  and  containing  a  large  amount  of  vapor, 
met  somewhere  in  the  neighborhood  near  the  south-west- 
ern portion  of  Minnesota.  The  warm  air  being  lighter, 
ascended  to  the  upper  atmosphere,  carrying  with  it  the 
vast  amount  of  electricity  it  contained.  The  cooler  air 
clung  to  the  surface  of  the  earth,  and  this  double  current 
moved  rapidly  eastward,  continuing  on  its  course  to  the 
Atlantic  seaboard,  where  its  greatest  violence  was  felt." 

During  March  the  prevailing  wind  was  N.E.  Highest 
temperature  50°,  lowest  — 2°.  Precipitation  5.43  inches. 
The  number  of  days  on  which  snow  or  rain  fell  was  23. 
Frosts  on  ist  and  20th  insts. 

April  18/A.  Thus  far  this  month  has  been  free  from 
snow  and  severe  cold.  Frost  did  not  fully  leave  the 
ground  in  shaded  places  before  the  middle  of  the  month. 
No  signs  of  vegetation,  except  flowering  of  the  maples, 
until  to-day,  when,  after  a  week's  dry  spell,  rain  has  fall- 
en, quite  saturating  the  soil.  22d. — The  warm,  sunny 
weather  which  followed  has  started  the  buds  of  early 
plants,  and  made  the  grass  quite  green.  Crocuses  and  a 
few  early  garden  flowers  have  been  a  week  in  bloom. 

28/A.  Rain  last  night.  The  temperature  continues 
very  mild  ;  buds  are  opening  on  the  trees.  Thermometer 
averages  about  75  °  at  noon.  30/A. — Vegetation  is  very 
backward,  notwithstanding  the  mean  temperature  has 
been  higher  than  for  the  last  five  years.  The  highest 
temperature   in  April,  75  ° ;  lowest,  20.      Prevailing  wind 


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N.E.  Rainfall  3.27  inches.  Much  and  thick  ice  still  in 
the  upper  lake  waters. 

May  6th,  No  rain  as  yet,  but  cold,  dry  winds  from 
easterly  directions,  with  frosts  every  night  until  4th. 
nth, — Cold  and  dry  easterly  winds  continue,  without  rain 
sufficient  to  saturate  the  soil.  Yet  the  forces  of  nature 
are  at  work  visibly  and  daily  in  perfecting  the  leaf  and 
blossom.  The  maples  are  coming  into  young  leaf,  and 
the  horse-chestnuts  are  quite  green.  Currant  bushes  in 
flower ;  also  cherry  trees,  but  not  the  shad  {Mespilus)  nor 
the  Judas-tree. 

iZth.  Dry  weather  continued  until  1 6th,  when  a  very 
copious  rain  fell  during  the  night  and  morning  of  17th. 
This  was  followed  by  a  great  change  in  the  temperature, 
which  rose  from  about  70° — the  highest  heretofore — to 
82°  throughout  most  of  the  day  on  the  17th,  and  on 
the  1 8th  to  88  ° ,  with  a  burning  sun.  Vegetation  felt  this 
extraordinary  change  most  sensibly.  The  leaves  of  the 
maples  and  chestnuts,  which  three  days  ago  were  only 
one-fourth  grown,  are  now  of  full  size.  The  later  trees, 
lindens,  oaks  and  hickories  are  quite  green;  cherries, 
peaches  and  pears  are  in  full  blow,  and  the  shad  and 
Judas-tree  nearly  so.  20th, — French  pear  trees  in  full  blos- 
som. The  extreme  dryness  of  the  season  has  given  cause 
for  forest  fires  in  Northern  Michigan  and  in  Wisconsin, 
and  some  of  the  Eastern  States.  In  some  instances  much 
destruction  has  occurred. 

The  rainfall  for  May  has  been  only  0.90  in.  against  5.62 
last  year,  and  a  normal  precipitation  of  3.4  inches.  The 
mean  temperature  is  the  normal  one  of  57°,  but  the  range 
has  been  considerable.     Prevailing  wind,  S.W. 

An  aurora  of  unusual  splendor  occurred  on  the  28th, 


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a  description  of  which  I  condense  from  the  report  of  the 
Signal  Service  officer  at  Detroit  : 

*'  It  consisted  of  three  arches  of  h'ght,  one  over  the 
other,  the  last  extending  to  the  zenith.  Slender,  lumi- 
nous beams  of  yellow  and  crimson  followed,  darting  up- 
ward from  the  horizon,  and  waving  like  flame.  These 
all  grew  more  and  more  brilliant  for  an  hour,  when  a 
complete  corona  of  glory  was  formed.  The  spectacle  was 
then  most  magnificent.  The  whole  northern  half  of  the 
heavens,  to  a  poiftt  lo  degrees  south  of  the  zenith,  was 
one  mass  of  quivering  flame,  in  which  all  the  colors  of 
the  rainbow  seemed  blended.  The  rays  of  light  arranged 
themselves  in  sinuous  bands,  like  the  undulations  of  a 
flag.  At  times  these  united  to  form  a  brilliant  fringed 
curtain,  whose  folds  were  agitated  by  the  wind  in  an 
immense  variety  of  most  graceful  curves.  After  the 
formation  of  the  corona,  tremulous  waves  of  light,  in 
rapid  succession,  rolled  upward,  and  travelled  along  the 
lines  of  the  auroral  arches.  The  southern  sky  was  of 
inky  blackness.  After  more  than  an  hour  the  arches 
broke  into  segments,  and  the  aurora  disappeared.*' 


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"  From  brightening  fields  of  ether  fair  disclosed, 
Child  of  the  sun,  refulgent  Summer  comes, 
In  pride  of  youth,  and  felt  through  Nature's  depth : 
He  comes  attended  by  the  sultry  Hours, 
And  ever  fanning  Breezes  on  his  way." 



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THE  first  of  our  summer  months  is  undoubtedly  with 
us  one  of  the  most  enjoyable  of  the  year.  The 
labors  of  planting  and  preparing  the  soil  for  the  long 
awaited  vegetation  are  concluded ;  the  dangers  from 
frosts  and  blasting  winds  are  over ;  we  have  a  full  real- 
ization of  what  the  coming  season  of  growth  is  to  afford. 
Our  keen  sense  of  the  change  from  the  nakedness  of 
winter  to  the  greenness  and  bloom  of  nature  is  not  yet 
blunted  by  long  fruition.  Nor  have  we  yet  been  parched 
by  the  summer  heats. 

What  a  month  of  months  is  our  Northern  June  !  The 
trees  lately  so  bare,  or  showing  only  the  delicate  tints  of 
spring,  have  now  perfected  their  foliage,  and  are  fresh  and 
lustrous  as  young  brides  adorned  for  their  husbands.  The 
evergreens  are  illuminating  their  sombre  mourning  suits 
with  an  embroidery  of  a  new  and  lighter  growth,  that, 
like  half-tints  in  a  widow's  weeds,  betoken  relief  from  the 
thraldom  of  sorrow,  while  they  add  enhanced  beauty. 
How  richly  green  the  soft  carpet  that  covers  the  ground ! 
What  land  can  compare  with  ours,  at  this  season,  for 
diversity  of  leaf  and  tint,  and  depth  of  color  ?  Where  is 
the  tropical  landscape  that,  with  all  its  luxuriance,  can 
compete  with  it,  or  that  can  compensate  by  its  tangle  and 
variety  for  the  absence  of  turf  ?  Trees  and  grass  make 
a  paradise  of  any  Northern  home,  nor  need  we  envy  those 
sun-burned  lands  where  that  chief  element  of  beauty — the 
greensward — is  wanting. 


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Month  of  roses  and  of  birds  among  the  bowers! 
Month,  too,  of  those  luscious  fruits,  strawberries  and 
cherries,  which  give  us  a  foretaste  of  the  bounties  of 
summer,  the  first  of  that  succession  of  delicious  small 
fruits  which  no  other  clime  produces  in  such  exquisite 
perfection.  Raspberries,  currants,  blackberries  and 
whortleberries  fill  up  the  whole  period  until  autumn, 
to  be  followed  by  the  larger  but  equally  characteristic 
fruits,  pears,  apples,  plums,  peaches  and  grapes.  Short 
as  our  period  of  vegetation  is,  ft  more  than  rivals  the 
tropics  in  the  brief  abundance,  as  well  as  exquisite  flavor 
of  its  productions.  The  deep  sleep  of  winter  seems  to  be 
necessary  to  so  brave  an  awakening.  Nor  is  it  in  fruits 
alone  that  this  climate  so  excels  ;  the  round  of  vegetables 
also  feels  the  superior  influence,  and  gives  us — happy 
dwellers  in  the  temperate  zone — what  no  other  clime  can 
furnish  in  perfection.  I  mention  but  one, — ^the  lordly 
and  incomparable  "  Indian  corn.**     Ab  una  disce  omnes  ! 

Sudden  as  is  the  transition  of  winter  into  summer,  and 
short  as  that  summer  is,  it  is  full  of  tropical  character. 
Sometimes,  for  days  together,  the  temperature  exceeds 
that  which  is  experienced  under  the  equator,  I  have 
known  persons  born  under  the  line,  or  accustomed  to 
the  sun  of  the  West  Indies,  who  complained  of  the  op- 
pressive heat  of  our  Northern  summer,  and  wished  them- 
selves escaped  to  the  cooler  airs  of  the  tropics.  At  such 
periods  vegetation  is  stimulated  into  excessive  activity, 
and  plants  of  a  certain  class  are  produced  and  ripen  in  an 
incredibly  short  time.  An  instance,  universally  known, 
is  that  American  plant,  the  Maize,  which  comes  to  per- 
fection  even  several  degrees  further  north,  while  it  refuses 
to  grow  with  equal  luxuriance  in  the  extreme  South. 
Allied  to  the  sugar-cane,  its  rapid  endogenous  growth,  its 


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Tropical  character. 


long  sheathing  leaves,  tasselled  top  and  silky  ears,  and 
its  stately  appearance,  remind  us  of  tropical  productions. 
What  a  magnificent  specimen  of  the  grass  kind  it  is! 
And  the  full  corn  in  the  ear, — how  unspeakably  superior 
to  all  other  known  grains  !  No  wonder  our  Puritan  an- 
cestors, under  the  spell  of  this  new-found  wonder,  lived 
and  flourished  on  hasty-pudding.  Or  that  Barlow,  one  of 
the  earliest  of  our  poets,  should  sing  of  the  maize — 

"  Thy  constellation  ruled  my  natal  morn, 
And  all  my  bones  were  made  of  Indian  corn.** 

The  daily  extension  of  the  blades  of  maize  may  be 
counted  by  inches,  and  on  a  still,  warm  summer  flight  the 
crackling  sounds  of  growth  may  be  distinctly  heard. 

Still  more  astonishing  is  the  rapidity  with  which  the 
coarser  vines,  squash  and  pumpkin — natives,  too,  of 
America  and  its  temperate  clime  —  push  themselves 
along ;  a  foot  in  twenty-four  hours  being  no  uncommon 
growth  during  our  torrid  days !  But  the  tropical  char- 
acter of  our  climate  is  perhaps  better  exhibited  in  the 
facility  and  perfection  with  which  many  trees  and  plants 
of  really  tropical  origin,  or  closely  allied  to  such,  come 
to  perfection  in  our  latitude.  I  may  instance  the  castor- 
bean  among  herbaceous  plants,  and  the  tulip-tree,  the 
cucumber-magnolia  and  the  pawpaw  among  trees. 

Nor  are  other  features  wanting,  to  show  how  close  is 
the  communion  we  hold  during  our  brief  summers  with 
those  lands  where  summer  is  eternal.  Usually  our  dry 
atmosphere  causes  the  nights  to  be  cool,  and  even  cold, 
after  a  day  of  almost  intolerable  heat ;  but  there  are,  not 
unfrequently,  nights  that  in  sultry  fervor  are  truly  tropical. 
Nights  in  which  it  is  enjoyment  to  dispense  with  all  the 
usual  coverings. 


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Even  the  sounds  are  now  tropical,  and  recall  Hum- 
boldt's description  of  insect  life  in  South  America. 
The  stridulous  note  of  the  Cicada  is  incessant.  How 
few  have  ever  seen  these  insects,  or  are  familiar  with 
their  form  and  life,  yet  how  they  fill  the  whole  palpitat- 
ing air  with  the  music  of  their  love-notes.  The  melody 
comes  to  our  ears,  not  in  a  continuous  strain,  but  in  a 
regular  beat  or  throb,  broken  occasionally  by  a  louder 
note,  which  rises  above,  and  for  a  moment  overpowers, 
the  universal  din. 

About  August  the  querulous  Katy-dids  add  their 
voices,  and  distinct  above  other  sounds  fill  the  ear  with 
their  contentions.  They  do  not  scatter,  like  other  cicada, 
but  congregate  in  some  favorite  spot  in  the  grove,  where, 
undisturbed  by  a  world  full  of  wranglings  of  its  own, 
they  may  dispute  upon  the  great  problem  of  their  lives, 
still  no  nearer  solution, — "  Katy  did,  Katy  did  ;  Katy 
did-e-nt.**     How  well  Holmes  has  written  of  them  : 

"  1  love  to  hear  thy  gentle  voice,  wherever  thou  art  hid. 
Thou  testy  little  dogmatist,  thou  pretty  Katy-did. 
I  think  there  is  a  knot  of  you  beneath  yon  hollow  tree ; 
A  knot  of  spinster  Katy-dids, — do  Katy-dids  drink  tea  ? 

"  Do  tell  me  where  did  Katy  live,  and  what  did  Katy  do  ? 
Was  she  so  very  fair  and  young,  and  yet  so  wicked  too  ? 
Did  Katy  Iovq.  some  naughty  man,  or  kiss  more  cheeks  than  one  ? 
I  warrant  Katy  did  no  more  than  many  a  Kate  has  done." 

What  hosts  of  insects,  brought  to  life  by  the  heated 
atmosphere,  have  the  night  for  their  season  of  active  ex- 
istence and  enjoyment.  Only  a  part  of  animated  na- 
ture sleeps  through  the  hours  of  darkness.  How  little 
we,  who  slumber,  know  of  the  world  that  is  abroad 
throughout  the  beautiful  summer  night. 


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There  are  "  voices  of  the  night "  unsung  by  Long- 
fellow. Some  homely  and  familiar  voices,  scorned  by 
the  vulgar,  but  which  to  the  ear  attuned  to  a  harmony 
untaught  by  human  masters,  are  full  of  music. 

From  the  marshy  bayous  of  our  river  comes  up  at  sum- 
mer eventide  the  croak  of  frogs.  A  pleasing  music  is 
the  nightly  concert  of  these  dwellers  in  the  reeds  and 
the  shallow  river-side.  Was  Pan  their  earliest  instructor? 
First  there  is  a  rattling  falsetto  of  small  notes,  varied  by 
deep  tones,  like  the  heavy  twang  of  a  bass-viol.  When 
one  of  these  big-voiced  fellows  tunes  up,  another  and 
sorhetimes  a  third  strikes  in,  keeping  up  a  simultaneous 
clangor,  of  about  five  seconds  duration.  Then  succeeds 
an  interval  of  silence, — a  five-bar  rest, — lasting  fifteen  or 
twenty  seconds,  when  the  leader  again  assumes  his  viol, 
and  is  assisted  as  before.  These  notes  are  heard  a  long  way 
off.  On  still  nights  they  are  very  distinctly  heard  from 
across  the  river,  a  full  mile  distant,  a  nightly  challenge 
from  the  Canuck  to  his  Yankee  cousins  over  the  way. 

Though  his  praises  are  not  sung  by  poets,  and  to 
many  ears  his  notes  are  harsh,  and  suggestive  of  marsh 
and.  malaria,  the  association  of  the  frog  with  the  early 
summer,  with  plashing  waters  and  dropping  rains,  with 
the  early  cowslip,  and  the  fresh  grass  in  the  moist 
meadow,  make  him  a  welcome  attendant  upon  the  season. 

The  note  of  the  tree-frog  is  similar  to  that  of  his 
small  brother  of  the  marsh,  and  is  loud  and  incessant 
throughout  the  night.  These  night  voices  do  not  assume 
a  continuous  strain,  fatiguing  to  the  ear,  but  occur  with 
intervals  of  silence,  like  the  measured  breathings  of  a 
sleeping  person,  and  consist  with  rhythmical  harmony. 

Another  pleasing  sound  of  the  summer  night  is  the 
sighing  of  the  breeze  in  the  tree-tops.     It  is  like  the  rush 


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of  waves  upon  the  beach,  subsiding  with  the  same  gentle 
murmur,  soothing  in  its  crescendo  and  its  fall. 

Moonlight  is  a  feature  of  the  summer  night,  in  the 
neighborhood  of  the  lakes,  which  the  peculiar  clearness 
of  the  atmosphere  renders  exceedingly  brilliant.  Such 
nights  can  be  thoroughly  enjoyed  only  in  the  dewy  fresh- 
ness of  the  country,  amid  grass  and  shrubbery  and  fine  old 
trees,  where  quiet  reigns,  and  human  sounds  are  ban- 

Were  we  to  analyze  the  nature  of  the  charm  which 
the  moonlight  has  upon  us,  it  would  be  found  to  be 
partly  physical ;  the  coolness,  the  quiet  and  the  shade 
being  soothing  to  all  the  senses.  But  the  charm  lies 
deeper  than  this.  The  landscape  which  we  see  by  day 
is  not  the  same  as  that  seen  under  the  canopy  of  night 
and  her  queen.  The  light  which  rests  like  a  mantle  on 
the  earth  is  soft  and  silvery,  unlike  the  dazzling  glow  of 
sunshine.  Even  in  this  feebler  light  shadows  are  more 
strongly  drawn.  The  contrasts  are  deeper,  from  the  ab- 
sence of  reflected  light,  which  breaks  up  and  diminishes 
the  effect  of  shadows  by  day.  Objects  and  their  shadows 
are  so  nearly  alike  that  they  blend,  the  former  seeming 
to  be  duplicated  rather.  The  apparent  size  of  objects  is 
enlarged,  which  gives  them  a  grander  outline.  A  bush 
becomes  a  tree^  and  trees  tower  more  majestically,  for 
the  glare  of  sunshine  belittles.  They  loom  like  giants 
against  the  lower  sky,  and  throw  their  dark  shadows 
toward  you,  as  if  these  were  a  part  of  themselves.  De- 
fects which  are  too  apparent  in  the  garish  light  that  the 
sun  throws  upon  all  things,  are  hidden  under  Luna's  ten- 
der sway.  Tree  and  shrub  assume  greater  perfectness  of 
form.  Her  white  beams  glisten  from  every  polished, 
upturned  leaf,  only  to  make  deeper  the  contrast  with  the 


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blackness  beneath.  Out  of  this  depth  of  shadow  the 
foliage  appears  larger  and  more  abundant.  As  the. eye 
cannot  penetrate  the  gloom,  the  scanty  arbor  becomes  a 
deeply  covered  bower.  Imagination  called  into  play 
pictures  unreal  beauties  in  the  landscape. 

A  still  greater  charm  of  moonlight  consists  in  the  nlys- 
tery  with  which  nature  is  invested.  The  half  known  is 
always  mysterious.  The  solemn  stillness  which  prevails 
with  the  close  of  restless  day,  the  myriad  eyes  that  look 
down  upon  us  from  the  firmament,  the  impotence  of 
mortal  vision  to  penetrate  t